The Andrews Labor Government is again ignoring a vital tool in the fight against COVID.
After criticising the introduction of rapid antigen testing before later adopting it, the government is dragging the chain on the targeted use of antiviral medication.
Currently, the medication is only available to over 65-year-olds and those with risk factors such as respiratory conditions, who are immunocompromised or those with a chronic disease.
While eligibility has been slightly expanded from next week, the medication should be made available to more at-risk Victorians of a wider age range with qualifying underlying health conditions.
Two and a half years into the pandemic, Victorians also deserve to know what data and advice the government has received around the underlying health conditions of those Victorians admitted to hospital with COVID, but not requiring ICU management and support.
Antivirals should then be made available to those targeted at-risk groups, which will reduce hospitalisations and help ease the increasing pressure within the health system which has suffered from ongoing mismanagement by the Andrews Government.
Shadow Minister for Health, Georgie Crozier, is urging the Federal Health Minister to make urgent changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme to make the medication more widely available.
The medication could then be administered at respiratory clinics, and supported through clinical outreach services to reduce the number of Victorians being admitted to under resourced hospitals.
“Despite hospital admissions rising, those being admitted to ICU has remained steady, and antivirals could help bring hospital admission numbers down,” Ms Crozier said.
“We urgently need to know whether our hospitalised patients were eligible for antivirals. And if they didn’t get them, why not?
“Making this medication more available will keep more Victorians out of hospital and alleviate pressure on our health system.
“The new Health Minister should already be seeking this information, and pushing for her federal colleagues to make the medication available to more Victorians likely to be badly affected by COVID.
“This is a sensible move that not only supports our most vulnerable, will ease the burden within our overstretched hospitals, and mean that more Victorians can recover and return to their daily lives as quickly as possible.”
Georgie Crozier MP
Shadow Minister for Health