Factsheet: Oral COVID-19 medicines

Oral medicines to treat COVID-19 are now available in Australia. Read this factsheet to learn more about these medicines, who can take them and if they are an option for you.

Oral COVID-19 medicines

Date published : 3 March 2022


What are they?

The medicines are called Lagevrio and Paxlovid. They are the first oral medicines that can treat COVID-19. Oral medicines are ones you put in your mouth, like tablets or capsules. This means you can take these medicines at home rather than needing to go to hospital for treatment.

These medicines do not replace the need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and the health of your loved ones.


How do they work?

Viruses, like the one that cause COVID-19, survive by making copies of themselves inside living cells. This can kill or damage the cells and make you sick.

These are antiviral medicines. They work by stopping viruses in your body from copying. With less copies of the virus in your body, your chance of getting very sick is lower.

Other antiviral medicines help illnesses such as flu and shingles (an infection that causes a painful rash).


Who are they for?

Doctors can prescribe these medicines for people aged 18 years and over with COVID-19 who:

  • do not need extra oxygen to help them breathe, and
  • are not in hospital, and
  • have a higher chance of getting very sick from their COVID-19 infection.

These medicines are not right for everyone. Your doctor will carefully check if they are safe for you. They will look at any other medicines you take and other health conditions you might have.


How can they help?

These medicines may lower the chance of some people with COVID-19 getting very sick and needing to go to hospital.

They work best if you start taking them as soon as possible after finding out you have COVID-19. Ideally within five days of first noticing signs of sickness.


Do they cause side effects?

All medicines can cause unwanted effects. These are also called side effects. We are still learning the side effects of these oral COVID-19 medicines.

Tell your doctor straight away if you notice any side effects or feel unwell after taking these or any other medicine.


The oral COVID-19 medicines are:


My medicine

If you and your doctor agree that one of these medicines might be helpful, use this table to keep track.

Medicine name



☐ Morning

☐ Night



☐ Morning

☐ Night

If I’m feeling unwell, I should call




Download the original pdf of this factsheet

Oral COVID-19 medicines

Date published : 3 March 2022