Inequitable uptake of COVID-19 antivirals

He Ako Hiringa
2 April 2024

Oral antivirals, nirmatrelvir co-packaged with ritonavir (Paxlovid) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio), were approved in Aotearoa New Zealand early in 2022 for treating COVID-19 in adults at increased risk of progressing to severe disease, hospitalisation or death.1,2

Dispensing data show that, compared to population estimates, proportionately more European/Other people were dispensed COVID-19 oral antivirals than people of all other ethnicities.3 And those living in areas of least socioeconomic deprivation were more likely to be dispensed these medicines than those living in areas of higher deprivation.3

While we cannot determine how many people were eligible for treatment with Paxlovid and molnupiravir, variations in the dispensing of these medicines suggest inequitable access.

For more detail on these data, click here.


  1. New Zealand Ministry Health. Medsafe data sheet (Paxlovid). 11 December 2023
  2. New Zealand Ministry Health. Medsafe data sheet (Lageviro). 11 October 2023
  3. Data provided by Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand. December 2023.