Thousands of the UK’s most vulnerable people are now among the first in the world to access life-saving, cutting-edge antiviral and antibody treatments for Covid-19 at home.
New treatments are being offered to clinically vulnerable people (aged 12 and over) who test positive for Covid-19, to reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death. Previously only available to hospitalised patients, these are now authorised for use in non-hospitalised patients UK-wide.
The process for accessing treatments - outlined below for England - may vary slightly, however, depending on where in the UK you live. See here for country specific guidance: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.
If you are within the group above, you should receive a letter or e-mail from the Government explaining how it works. You will be sent a priority PCR test to keep at home, so you can get tested quickly if you have any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste).
You should take the test as soon as possible, even if your symptoms are mild. Prior to taking the test (but only if you have symptoms) you should register it online so the NHS can contact you about treatment if you test positive (remember to enter your NHS number and postcode correctly).
Once you complete the priority PCR test it should be returned for processing.
If you feel you may be eligible, but you haven’t received your letter or test kit by 10 January 2022, please call 119, or contact your GP or consultant to discuss whether you should be in the highest risk group. They will make an assessment, and if you should be eligible, they will issue you with further information on next steps.
You can also get a PCR test on GOV.UK or get tested at a local test centre if you have not yet received a kit.
If you test positive and are eligible for treatment, it's important to start this as soon as possible. You should be contacted by an NHS Covid Medicines Delivery Unit (CMDU) within 24 hours, who will discuss and arrange your treatment. This will usually be by text, email or phone call.
If you have not been contacted within 24 hours of your positive PCR test but you think you may be eligible for treatment, call your GP, consultant, or 111. They will be able to make an urgent referral if needed.
There are 4 treatments, which include include an infusion of neutralising monoclonal antibodies (nMABs) or oral antiviral treatments. The NHS will advise which treatment, if any, is suitable for you:
The treatments available are:
Nirmatrelvir, ritonavir, remdesivir and molnupiravir are antiviral medicines.
Sotrovimab is a biological medicine. It is also known as a neutralising monoclonal antibody (nMAb).
(please note: Treatments for COVID-19 are free of charge on the NHS. The NHS will never ask for your bank account or card details, or ask you to pay for treatment)
There are several studies taking place in the UK to help prevent Covid-19, to understand more about the latest Omicron variant and vaccine efficacy for kidney patients.
The Protect-V trial is a clinical trial to find out if the drug niclosamide, given as a nasal spray, can prevent Covid-19 infection in vulnerable, high-risk kidney patients and reduce the number of people who become seriously ill or die from it. Kidney patients who would like to take part in PROTECT-V should speak to their nephrologist in their local centre. More information is available here.
The Melody study is a new national study, to investigate how well third doses of COVID-19 vaccine protect immunocompromised patients and identify those who might still be at risk. This study is actively recruiting new patients and kidney transplant recipients are eligible to take part. Find out more and sign up.
A national study called Panoramic, run by the University of Oxford, has just launched. Over 50s and people with underlying health conditions, including patients with chronic kidney disease or a transplant, who have tested positive for Covid-19 can now sign up for the trial. The people in the study will either be given standard treatments for Covid-19 or the same standard treatments, plus the antiviral molnupiravir (described above). The selection will be random and means there is only a 1 in 2 chance of being given the treatment. More information about Panoramic.