Thousands of people to receive cutting edge Covid anti-viral treatments, Javid says

The government hopes that the move will reduce pressure on the NHS this winter

Lamiat Sabin
Thursday 09 December 2021 16:25
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<p>Molnupiravir has shown in clinical trials to reduce the risk of hospitalisation</p>

Molnupiravir has shown in clinical trials to reduce the risk of hospitalisation

Thousands of vulnerable people in the UK are to be among the first in the world to receive cutting-edge antiviral and antibody Covid treatments, health secretary Sajid Javid announced today.

About 10,000 people aged over 50 and those with underlying health conditions will be recruited to take medication at home if they test positive for the illness.

Those at highest risk from Covid – such as immunocompromised people, and those that suffer from diseases including cancer and heart disease – can receive either treatment from 16 December.

“A national study called Panoramic, run by the University of Oxford, is recruiting around 10,000 UK patients to take molnupiravir, while novel monoclonal antibody Ronapreve would be taken through an IV infusion in hospital or one of the new COVID Medicines Delivery Units (CMDUs) from 16 December.

The government hopes that the move will reduce hospitalisations and pressure on the NHS this winter.

Molnupiravir has shown in clinical trials to reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death for at-risk, non-hospitalised adults with mild to moderate Covid by 30 per cent, while Ronapreve reduced the risk by 70 per cent.

The health secretary Sajid Javid said: “The UK is a world-leader in rolling out innovative treatments to the patients who need them and today is a historic milestone in our battle against the virus, deploying the first medicines vulnerable people will be able to take outside of hospital and in the comfort of their own homes to protect themselves.

“This opens up a new era for the treatment of Covid-19, one where we can begin to cover every phase of contracting this deadly disease – whether it be before you catch it, just after you catch it, if you develop symptoms or if you require hospital care.”

Eligible people who receive a positive PCR test will be contacted by the study team or a local healthcare professional to sign up to the trial. Alternatively, they can sign up themselves through the study’s website.

Eligible participants are encouraged to enrol in the study urgently to ensure that they have the opportunity to access the treatments within the first five days of Covid symptoms.

Participants would be required to complete a daily diary for 28 days through the Panoramic website or receive a phone call from the trial team on days 7, 14 and 28 to speak about their symptoms. The first set of results from the trial are anticipated in early 2022.

Meanwhile, the prime minister Boris Johnson announced that England would move to Covid plan B with the introduction of tougher measures to combat the omicron variant.

Mr Johnson said that work-from-home guidance will return from Monday, Covid passes proving vaccination will become mandatory from Friday in nightclubs and larger venues, and mask rules will be extended.

He warned that the new strain is “growing much faster” than the delta variant, and that cases of omicron could be doubling every two or three days.

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