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US President Joe Biden Has Announced The 'Test To Treat' Covid Strategy

In a bid to help Americans find a "new normal" with the coronavirus, Joe Biden announced a shift in Covid-19 strategy in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Chief among the changes the president announced will be a new "test to treat" program, which encourages people to be tested for Covid-19 at a pharmacy and then receive antiviral pills on the spot.

The plan aims to cut out numerous steps in between testing positive and receiving antiviral pills, a treatment called Paxlovid manufactured by Pfizer, which to date have been scarce.

"People can get tested at the pharmacy, if they prove positive, receive the antiviral pills on the spot at no cost," said Biden.

He said the administration ordered 1 million antiviral pills to be delivered by the end of March, and double that by April.

Biden also said his administration would work to prepare for the next variant and end school and business shutdowns in response to viral surges.

A broader blueprint for how to move forward in the pandemic is expected Wednesday morning from the president's four top coronavirus advisors.

Both announcements come on the heels of a major shift in strategy announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week, which focuses future Covid-19 monitoring efforts on preventing severe disease cases from overwhelming hospitals, rather than on new cases.

The move came as the omicron-driven winter surge began to recede, and widespread infection and vaccination left a large swath of the American public less vulnerable to severe disease.

Citing the new focus on severe disease, the CDC said about 70% of Americans lived in places where they could relax mask-wearing in public, indoor places, including in schools.

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