CMO encourages people to come forward for antiviral trial


National study will test new COVID-19 treatments.

NEW treatment options will see people in the early stages of illness from COVID-19 who are at higher risk of complications access new antiviral treatments.

Antiviral medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 will be evaluated through a new national study called PANORAMIC, run by the University of Oxford. The UK-wide study will prioritise those at greater risk of being severely ill if they test positive for COVID-19. Eligibility for the study is therefore limited to those who meet certain criteria.

The study, starting today, is open to people aged 50 and above, or 18-49 with certain underlying health conditions which make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. They must also have started to experience COVID-19 symptoms within the past five days and have recorded a positive PCR test.

In addition to the study, all people considered as extremely high risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19, and who have tested positive, will be able to access a monoclonal antibody or, if not appropriate, an antiviral treatment, from 16 December. In the coming weeks letters will be sent to those eligible with further information. Details on who is eligible can also be found on NHS Inform, and – from 16 December – a dedicated contact number will be available for each health board to provide further information on how to get access to the medicines.

These treatments are in addition to vaccinations which still remain the best way to protect everyone.

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said:

“This University of Oxford study will test whether new antiviral treatments for COVID-19 can help people in the early stages of the illness recover faster and therefore reduce the number of people being admitted to hospital.

“The results from the national study will give us a clearer understanding on how antivirals work in the UK population, which will allow the NHS to better plan how to make COVID-19 antivirals available for those who would benefit from them the most. We will provide further detail on plans for wider availability of antivirals in due course.

“I would encourage people in Scotland to take part if they are eligible. You may be contacted about taking part by a health care professional if you have a positive PCR result, or you can register yourself via the Oxford University website

“The treatment is tablets taken orally as soon as possible after getting a COVID-19 infection to stop the illness from getting worse.

“Antiviral treatments are in addition to COVID-19 vaccinations – including boosters – and not a replacement. We hope they will help reduce the severity of illness in people who may fall ill even if they have been vaccinated.  

“It remains clear that getting vaccinated is the single most effective step that anyone can take to protect themselves from the most severe disease caused by COVID-19. Anyone who has not yet received their first or second COVID-19 vaccination can check their nearest open access centre on NHS Inform or phone the national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013.” 

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