New York Health Official Recommends Paxlovid for Treatment of COVID

Dr. K. Torian Easterling

NEW YORK, New York – With the BA. 2 Omnicron subvariant now accounting for most of the sequenced cases in New York City, the First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer at the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), Dr.  K. Torian Easterling, is recommending the drug Paxlovid for treatment of New Yorkers, including Caribbean nationals, who may have contracted the disease.  

“New Yorkers have suffered so much throughout this pandemic, and we want to prevent any additional pain, including unnecessary hospitalization and death,” said Easterling, who has spent more than six years in a senior leadership role at the DOHMH,

“Paxlovid and other treatments are highly effective. For anyone in New York City’s Caribbean community who tests positive for COVID, we encourage them to discuss treatments with their healthcare providers,” he added. 

Easterling – a graduate of Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School, who also holds a Master of Public Health from Icahn School of Medicine at Sinai in New York – said the impacts of COVID have not been felt equally, stating that DOHMH data has shown that Black and Latino New Yorkers have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We want to make sure New Yorkers have access to the most effective treatments available,” he said. “Paxlovid is one effective treatment that can lessen symptoms and help keep you out of the hospital. 

“This treatment also comes at no cost to New Yorkers and can be picked up at many pharmacies or delivered to your home within 24 hours,” he added. 

Easterling stressed that Paxlovid is “safe and effective” in treating COVID-19 patients, and that, according to Pfizer, the manufacturer of Paxlovid, this pill was found, in one of its studies, to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent, compared to placebo in non-hospitalized high-risk adults.

“The medication works best when started early; so, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible if you start to feel symptoms,” urged  Easterling, who, prior to serving in his current roles, served as Deputy Commissioner of the Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness at DOHMH, where he oversaw programmatic work focused on reducing overall premature mortality and closing the racial gap on the top leading causes of preventable death.

He said Paxlovid is an oral pill that is used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and children. 

“It can help you avoid hospitalization and could help you feel better faster,” said Dr. Easterling, who also served as the Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Health’s Bureau of Brooklyn Neighborhood Health, where he helped advance key programming to address pressing concerns, including maternal deaths and gun violence. 

“We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID, including testing, treatment, vaccination – which includes boosters for those who are due – that are effective against these new variants,” he said. “We also have ‘tried and true methods’, like masking in public indoor settings, when you are with large groups whose vaccination status is unknown.

“As a city, we have been through so much. We are committed to protecting New Yorkers against COVID and confronting health inequities,” he assured. “I am reassured that, as our toolbox has spread to now include, masks, vaccines and treatment, we will get through this together.”