YOU may be eligible to have Covid pills taken at home if you become infected.
Thousands will be able to get their fingers in the drugs, which have proven to be extremely effective.
The medicine is not yet widespread. But with more research, it may become the norm to take a Covid pill to relieve symptoms.
They are called antiviral agents and target the virus at an early stage and prevent progression to more severe or even critical symptoms.
This will also help ease the pressure on hospitals.
The UK government has bought 2.23 million courses of a drug called molnupiravir (Lagevrio).
Clinical trials have suggested that molnupiravir, made by the American company Merck and Ridgeback, can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death of adults in the risk group by 30 percent.
The Covid antiviral pill is already licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
But to find out who will benefit the most, experts need to examine it in a large group of Britons.
It is also not clear how the Omicron variant – which emerged after the initial clinical trials were performed – will have an impact on such drugs.
The good news is that Omicron has already been shown to be milder for a person catching it compared to previous strains.
Booster vaccines further strengthen the defenses, with a top dose that has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by more than 80 percent.
How to get the Covid pills
Health Minister Sajid Javid said antiviral drugs became “more widely available through a national study”, which was announced late last year.
He has urged people over 50 or between 18 and 49 with an underlying health condition to sign up for the trial.
“They can sign up for this lawsuit by visiting the website panoramictrial.org,” he told the House of Commons on Thursday.
“The more people who sign up, the more broadly we can implement these treatments.”
The Molnupiravir trial, called PANOMARIC, is run by Oxford University and needs 20,000 volunteers from across the UK.
You can sign up for the trial regardless of your vaccination status and if:
You are currently experiencing Covid symptoms that begin within the last five days.
You have a positive PCR or lateral flow test.
You are aged over 50 or 18-49 with a listed pre-existing condition including morbid obesity, Down syndrome, chronic kidney disease and sometimes asthma.
Those who consent to be part of the study will be randomly selected to receive either the drug or a dummy version (placebo).
Two different groups are needed so that the study team can see any difference in the health of those who received the antiviral treatment compared to those who did not.
The medicine will be delivered to you, and over the next 28 days, answer a few questions online or talk to someone on the phone.
If you are eligible, you may also be contacted by the examination team or a local healthcare professional, such as your GP.
For more information, see the PANORAMIC website.
The government has also bought an additional 2.75 million ritonavir (Paxlovid), manufactured by Pfizer.
Ritonavir reduced the relative risk of Covid-associated hospitalization or death by 89 percent in those who received treatment within three days of the onset of symptoms.
It is approved for use in people 18 years of age and older who have mild to moderate Covid-19 infection and at least one risk factor for developing serious illness.
Sir. Javid said yesterday that the UK had built the most advanced package of treatments against Covid in Europe with nearly five million cures of oral antiviral drugs.
“We are already making these groundbreaking antiviral drugs and treatments available directly to patients,” he said.
“Last month, we contacted 1.3 million of them with the highest risk of Covid-19, people like those who might be suffering from cancer or people with Down syndrome, and we sent them a PCR test kit that they can store at home.
“If they test positive, they are able to access either a monoclonal antibody or an antiviral agent, which can then either be sent … to their home, or they can access it through one of the 96 Covid medicine dispensers now available throughout the UK. ”
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