Covid-19 antiviral treatment for high risk patients

The NHS is offering new antibody and antiviral treatments to people with coronavirus (Covid-19) who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill. Those who are eligible (see below) should already have received a letter from the NHS explaining the treatment options and what to do.

Two types of Covid-19 treatment are available:

  • Sotrovimab (Xevudy)
  • Molnupiravir (Lagevrio)

Sotrovimab is a biological medicine. It is also known as a neutralising monoclonal antibody (nMAb).

Molnupiravir is an antiviral medicine.

 

These treatments can help some people manage their Covid-19 symptoms and reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill.

 

Who can have a Covid-19 treatment?

Treatments for Covid-19 are for people aged 12 and over who have tested positive for the virus and are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill.

This includes some people who have:

  • Down's syndrome
  • A rare condition affecting the brain or nerves (including multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease or myasthenia gravis)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Certain types of cancer
  • HIV or AIDS
  • A severe liver condition (such as cirrhosis)
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 or 5
  • Had an organ transplant
  • Certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease)
  • A condition or treatment that makes you more likely to get infections
  • Had certain types of chemotherapy in the last 12 months
  • Had radiotherapy in the last six months

 A doctor or specialist will confirm if you are eligible for treatment.

How was this list decided?

The list of health conditions has been agreed by the UK chief medical officers and is based on advice from an independent advisory group of health experts commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Antiviral medicines such as Molnupiravir are also available through a national trial run by the University of Oxford. The trial is open to people in the UK who meet the criteria above, but also includes people aged 50 or over, whether they are in a high-risk category or not. You can sign up to the trial directly – this is separate from the local service.

Find out more about the University of Oxford Covid-19 antiviral trial on the Panoramic trial website

 

How to get a Covid-19 treatment

Treatment is only available to those who meet the criteria above and who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Take a PCR test if you get symptoms

If you are eligible for a Covid-19 treatment, you should be sent a PCR test kit to keep at home. A PCR test is a test that you do at home and send to a lab for the result.

You will be given a test 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.

When registering your test, it's important to enter your NHS number and postcode correctly. This is so the NHS can contact you about treatment if you test positive.

If you use your test, NHS Test and Trace will send you a replacement.

Call 119 if you think you may be eligible for treatment but have not received your test kit by 10 January 2022.

You can order a PCR test on gov.uk or get tested at a local test centre if you have not yet received a kit.

 

What happens if you test positive?

If you're eligible for treatment and test positive for Covid-19, it's important to start the treatment as soon as you can. This will be within five days of the onset of symptoms.

You will be contacted by text within 24 hours of your positive PCR test result, asking you to call a central number where you will receive more information and a check to confirm if treatment is right for you.

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 surgery or 111. They will be able to make an urgent referral if needed.

 

Which treatment will I get?

The NHS will advise which treatment, if any, is suitable for you.

Sotrovimab is given to you through a drip in your arm (infusion). This may be in a hospital or clinic setting, or at your home.

You'll receive instructions about where to get the treatment and how to travel there and back safely.

If you are given Molnupiravir, it normally comes as capsules to swallow and can be taken at home.

A hospital pharmacy will usually arrange for the medicine to be delivered to you or it can be collected by someone else such as a friend, relative or NHS volunteer responder. It should not be a member of your household.

More information:

 

Follow-up

When you have had your treatment, you will be monitored remotely for a period using an oximeter to check your oxygen levels. This will help identify whether you need any further treatment at an early stage.

 

Please remember, treatments for Covid-19 are free of charge through the NHS. The NHS will never ask for your bank account or card details or ask you to pay for treatment.