‘Game-changer’: Take-at-home Covid drug given to UK patients for first time – major study

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The study, led by the University of Oxford, will be giving the antiviral treatment to Covid patients across the UK to assess whether it protects individuals with an underlying condition. Molnupiravir works by lodging errors into the genetic code of the coronavirus to prevent the virus from copying itself. This in turn thwarts the ability of the virus to multiply and spread throughout the body. Health Secretary Sajid David described the novel drugs as a “game-changer” after the UK became the first nation to approve its use last month.

Sonia Bryan became one of the first people in the world to be given the pill outside of a clinical trial earlier this week.

She started to feel unwell after contracting the virus and testing positive on December 9th, and received a course of treatment through the post the following day.

She said: “I’m in the older age group, so I’m a little bit more at risk.

“If it works, they can get this drug into the community, help people get back to normal more quickly, and prevent hospital admissions so Covid doesn’t get out of hand.”

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The trial, called Panoramic, is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research and is set to recruit a total of 10,600 Britons from across the country.

The drug is one of many treatments for Covid set to be tested over the course of the study.

The trial’s chief investigator, Professor Chis Butler, said: “There is good ground for believing that this drug could be a game-changer, but that’s not proven in the UK context at the current time.

“All the initial clinical trials were done in unvaccinated people, and with the variants that were circulating at the time.

“How will that play out in the UK setting where the population is largely vaccinated?

“We don’t know. And that is exactly why we need to do the [Panoramic] trial.”

All current antivirals in development to treat Covid need to be taken within five days of symptoms appearing to have curative effects.

This time frame allows the drug to kick in before high levels of the virus are present in the body.

The pill, which had primarily been developed with the intention of treating influenza, is the first to be taken at home in the form of a tablet.

People over 50 can start applying for the medication online as soon as they test positive for coronavirus.

General practitioners will also be able to enrol their patients and have the drug delivered to their front door the next day.

In October, preliminary data released by the drug companies behind molnupiravir suggested the drug cut the risk of hospitalisation in vulnerable patients with Covid by half.

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