Getting your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself from the virus.
There are additional treatment options for selected groups of people with coronavirus who are thought to be at greater risk. These additional treatments need to be given soon after you get a positive PCR test result to be most effective.
These additional coronavirus treatments will be available to the following groups of people this winter:
- groups of people thought to be at high risk and with a clinical condition that's been prioritised for treatment
- those taking part in a national study called PANORAMIC
Direct access to coronavirus treatments for patient groups considered at high risk from coronavirus and with a clinical condition prioritised for treatment
Adults and children (aged 12 or over) who have all 3 of the following are eligible to be assessed for treatment:
- a positive PCR test for coronavirus in the last 5 days
- symptoms of coronavirus that started in the last 5 days
- are a member of one of the patient groups considered at high risk from coronavirus with a clinical condition prioritised for treatment
Health boards can accept a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result whilst waiting for confirmation of a positive PCR test in certain circumstances. Your LFD test is not complete until you report your result, either online or by phone, and receive a result confirmation notification. You'll still need a PCR test to confirm your positive result.
Patient groups considered at high risk from coronavirus and to be prioritised for treatment
The following patient groups were determined by a Department of Health and Social Care-commissioned group of clinical experts using the best available evidence on outcomes in coronavirus infection.
All patients with Down's Syndrome
Sickle cell disease
All patients with a diagnosis of sickle cell disease
Patients with a solid cancer
- Active metastatic cancer and active solid cancers (at any stage)
- All patients that have received chemotherapy within the last 3 months and certain patients that received chemotherapy 3 – 12 months ago
- Patients receiving radiotherapy within the last 6 months
Patients with a haematologic malignancy (cancer of the blood)
- Allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients in the last 12 months or active graft vs host disease (GVHD) regardless of time from transplant (including HSCT for non-malignant diseases)
- Autologous HSCT recipients in the last 12 months (including HSCT for non-malignant diseases)
- Individuals with haematological malignancies who have received chimaeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy in the last 24 months, or radiotherapy in the last 6 months
- Individuals with haematological malignancies receiving systemic anti-cancer treatment (SACT) within the last 12 months except patients with chronic phase chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in molecular response or first or second line tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI)
- All patients with myeloma (excluding MGUS) or chronic B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders (e.g. chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, follicular lymphoma) or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) who do not fit the criteria above
- Individuals with non-malignant haematological disorder (e.g. aplastic anaemia or paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria) receiving B-cell depleting systemic treatment (e.g. anti-CD20, anti thymocyte globulin [ATG] and alemtzumab) within the last 12 months.
Patients with a renal (kidney) disease
- Renal transplant recipients (including those with failed transplants within the past 12 months), particularly those who:
- Received B cell depleting therapy within the past 12 months (including alemtuzumab, rituximab [anti-CD20], anti-thymocyte globulin)
- Have an additional substantial risk factor which would in isolation make them eligible for nMABs or oral antivirals
- Not been vaccinated prior to transplantation
- Non-transplant patients who have received a comparable level of immunosuppression
- Patients with chronic kidney stage (CKD) 4 or 5 (an eGFR less than 30 ml/min/1.73m2) without immunosuppression
Patients with liver disease
- Patients with cirrhosis Child’s-Pugh class B and C (decompensated liver disease)
- Patients with a liver transplant
- Liver patients on immune suppressive therapy (including patients with and without liver cirrhosis)
- Patients with cirrhosis Child’s-Pugh class A who are not on immune suppressive therapy (compensated liver disease)
Patients with immune-mediated inflammatory disorders (IMID)
- IMID treated with rituximab or other B cell depleting therapy in the last 12 months
- IMID with active/unstable disease on corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, tacrolimus, cyclosporin or mycophenolate.
- IMID with stable disease on either corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, tacrolimus, cyclosporin or mycophenolate.
- IMID patients with active/unstable disease including those on biological monotherapy and on combination biologicals with thiopurine or methotrexate
Primary immune deficiencies
- Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)
- Undefined primary antibody deficiency on immunoglobulin (or eligible for Ig)
- Hyper-IgM syndromes
- Good’s syndrome (thymoma plus B-cell deficiency)
- Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID)
- Autoimmune polyglandular syndromes/autoimmune polyendocrinopathy, candidiasis, ectodermal dystrophy (APECED syndrome)
- Primary immunodeficiency associated with impaired type I interferon signalling
- X-linked agammaglobulinaemia (and other primary agammaglobulinaemias)
- Patients with high levels of immune suppression, have uncontrolled/untreated HIV (high viral load) or present acutely with an AIDS defining diagnosis
- On treatment for HIV with CD4 <350 cells/mm3 and stable on HIV treatment or CD4>350 cells/mm3 and additional risk factors (e.g. age, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular, liver or renal disease, homeless, those with alcohol-dependence)
Solid organ transplant recipients
All recipients of solid organ transplants not otherwise specified above
Rare neurological conditions
- Multiple sclerosis
- Motor neurone disease
- Myasthenia gravis
- Huntington’s disease
Accessing PCR testing
The fastest route to get a PCR test is to visit a testing site. However if you meet the eligibility criteria for new coronavirus treatments and know that this will not be possible for you, you can request a home test kit to have ready in case you start to experience symptoms.
Read further information about how to arrange a PCR test.
The table below provides a phone number for each NHS health board that you can contact if you meet the eligibility criteria. You should contact your health board where you live.
The phone lines will be open 7 days a week including public holidays. You may reach an answering machine and be asked to leave a message as some areas are operating a call back service.
After contacting the number you'll be assessed for your suitability for treatment.
If treatment is offered to you, you might have to travel to a day clinic at a hospital. You'll get instructions on where to get the treatment and how to get there and back safely. You'll receive a treatment called a monoclonal antibody treatment. This is normally given by intravenous infusion (in your vein). However, your clinician may recommend an antiviral treatment to be taken orally instead.
Coronavirus is much less likely to progress to severe disease in people aged 12 to 17 even in those who might be viewed as at increased risk. Only those 12 to 17 year olds assessed as at exceptionally high risk will be offered an infusion of a monoclonal antibody treatment. The oral antiviral treatment (molnupiravir) is only authorised for use in adults over 18.
These numbers should not be used if you're seeking urgent medical advice or have a general health query.
PANORAMIC National Research Study
Coronavirus oral antiviral treatments will be evaluated through a new UK-wide study called PANORAMIC, run by the University of Oxford.
This is open to people living anywhere in the UK who have all 3 of the following:
- a positive PCR test result for coronavirus
- feel unwell with symptoms of coronavirus that started in the last 5 days
- are aged 50 or over or aged 18 to 49 years old with an underlying medical condition (check the PANORAMIC trial website for further details) that can increase the chance of having severe coronavirus symptoms
If you're in this group and have a positive PCR test result, you may be contacted by a healthcare professional in your health board about participating in the trial, or you can sign up yourself on the study website.
The study will test whether these new oral antiviral treatments can help higher-risk people in the early stages of the coronavirus illness recover faster and therefore reduce the number of people admitted to hospital.
Half of the participants will receive antivirals, and half will not as happens in most trials related to new treatments. This is so the study team can see any difference in the health of those who received the antiviral treatment compared to those who didn’t.
All participants take part from their own homes, without needing to visit a clinic or hospital. The oral treatment will be delivered directly to their home by the trial team. All participants will still be able to access any NHS care that they would normally expect to receive.
If you take part in the study, you'll need to complete a daily diary for 28 days. In some areas, you may instead receive a phone call from the trial team on days 7, 14, and 28 to speak about your symptoms while you're in the trial.