The UK has signed contracts to buy a further 4.25 million courses of antivirals for the NHS.
Millions more cutting-edge antiviral treatments for COVID-19 have been secured for NHS patients as the UK government signs 2 new contracts to help tackle Omicron.
The significant new deals have been accelerated following the emergence of the Omicron variant to protect vulnerable people over the coming months. The move will help reduce hospitalisations and ease pressures on the NHS.
Antivirals are treatments used to either treat those who are infected with a virus or sometimes protect exposed individuals from becoming infected. They target the virus at an early stage, preventing progression to more severe, or even critical, symptoms.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
“Our COVID-19 booster programme continues at unparalleled pace and it’s vital we further bolster our national response to the virus by ensuring access to the world’s best treatments too.
This is a mammoth deal for the UK government and for patients across the country that are set to benefit from these antivirals over the coming months.
If you’re aged 50 and over or have an underlying health condition and test positive for COVID-19, sign up to the study as soon as you can and take advantage of this remarkable treatment.”
Antiviral Molnupiravir is already being rolled out to hundreds of patients through the national study PANORAMIC, run by the University of Oxford in close collaboration with GP hubs. The government is urging everyone aged 50 and over, or between 18 to 49 with an underlying health condition, to sign up to the trial if they test positive for COVID-19.
The Antivirals Taskforce will continue to look at a number of further treatment options, spanning a range of different antiviral mechanisms. Alongside the work of the Therapeutics Taskforce, this will ensure as many people as possible can be protected from COVID-19, future variants and other future diseases.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the UK has proven itself to be a world leader in identifying and rolling out effective treatments for COVID-19, including the world’s first treatment, dexamethasone, which has saved over a million lives worldwide.