Thousands more vulnerable people in England are now eligible to receive the UK’s second oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19.
Paxlovid has been added to the PANORAMIC national study, run by the University of Oxford in close collaboration with GP hubs. It is already available directly through the NHS to those whose immune systems mean they are at higher risk of serious illness who test positive for the virus – including those who are immunocompromised, cancer patients or those with Down’s syndrome.
The PANORAMIC study makes antivirals available to a large number of patients, while collecting further data on how the antivirals work where the majority of the adult population is vaccinated. It ensures antivirals are being used in the most effective way and is crucial in ensuring clinicians have the full information to prescribe antiviral treatments to patients in future.
The study is open to adults over the age of 50 or those aged 18 to 49 with an underlying health condition that can increase the risk of developing severe COVID-19, who have received a positive COVID-19 test result, and who are experiencing symptoms that started in the previous 5 days.
In just over 3 months, more than 20,000 patients have joined the nationwide study to help generate vital data on molnupiravir, the first oral antiviral to be made available. The introduction of Paxlovid will allow a further 17,500 patients to enrol to access this ground-breaking treatment, which has been shown to reduce the relative risk of death or hospitalisation by 88% in clinical trials.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "As we learn to live with COVID, the UK continues to lead the way in using cutting-edge treatments which have already saved the lives of many of the country’s most vulnerable patients.
"The addition of Paxlovid to the ground-breaking PANORAMIC study is an important milestone and will help us understand who benefits most from these treatments."
The Government, through the Antivirals Taskforce, has procured 4.98 million courses of antivirals in total. While vaccines remain the most important first line of defence, antivirals target the virus at an early stage, preventing progression to more severe, or even critical, symptoms.
Chris Butler, from the University of Oxford and clinical trial lead, said: "It is early on in the illness, when people are still being cared for in the community, that treatments for COVID could have their greatest benefit. The PANORAMIC trial is testing whether novel, promising antiviral treatments help people suffering from COVID in the community to recover faster and reduce the need for treatment in hospital.
"It is critically important that new treatments are tested on people and in the situation where they are intended to be used. Joining the PANORAMIC trial will help ensure people with COVID, and indeed the NHS, get the maximum benefit from these precious treatments."