Covid antiviral pill trial starts in West Midlands

A new pill that targets the symptoms of Covid is being trialled in the West Midlands.

GPs are taking part in tests that involves them giving out purpose-designed antiviral treatments.

The drugs could help clinically vulnerable people with Covid in the community recover sooner, preventing the need for hospital admission and easing the burden on the NHS.

Stourport Medical Practice is one of only two organisations in the West Midlands to take part in the trial.

It is hoped the drugs will eventually be rolled out so that anyone with early symptoms can take them at home.

The trial is known as 'Panoramic' – Platform Adaptive Trial of Novel Antivirals for Early Treatment of Covid-19 in the Community.

Dr Sebastian Morton of Stourport Medical Practice said: 'We hope that patients who are diagnosed with Covid-19 will come forward and help us to investigate these vital treatments. They can be taken at home, so there is minimal inconvenience to participants, but a potentially very valuable outcome.'

People can join the study if they are aged 50 and over, or between 18 and 49 years with underlying health conditions that make them clinically more vulnerable.

All participants also need to have had a positive Covid-19 test and be within five days of the onset of symptoms.

These new antiviral treatments are intended for use in the very early stages of infection, by people in the community with the virus who are at higher risk of complications.

The other trial taking place is in Telford, in Shropshire.

To enable the benefit of each treatment to be compared against standard care - a total of 10,600 volunteers are needed to take part in each arm of the study.

Half of the participants will be randomly allocated to receive the antiviral treatment plus standard care, while the other half will receive standard care alone.

The Panoramic study brings together GP practices, NHS 111, Test and Trace, care homes, pharmacies and other NHS and social care service providers from the region and right across the UK who will actively identify potential participants, invite them to take part and support their participation.

Taking part is easy. People who receive a positive PCR test for Covid-19 will be contacted by the trial team or a local healthcare professional, such as a GP or a research nurse, to consider enrolling in the study.

Alternatively, anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can also sign-up to take part in the study directly through the trial website at panoramictrial.org

All participants take part from their own homes, without needing to visit a clinic or hospital.

Participants randomised to the group that receives an antiviral treatment will have their medicines sent directly to their homes by courier.

They will keep a daily diary for 28 days through the Panoramic website or receive a phone call from the trial team on days 7, 14 and 28 to speak about their symptoms and any NHS care they have needed.

Panoramic has been designed as a ‘platform clinical trial’, meaning it can rapidly evaluate several antiviral treatments, as and when they become available.

The UK Antivirals Taskforce has selected all treatments to be tested.

The first treatment to be investigated through the trial will be molnupiravir (brand name, Lagevrio) - a Covid antiviral pill - which has already been licensed by the MHRA.

The results from this highest priority national study will provide a clearer understanding on how antivirals work in the UK population - which has a high vaccination rate - enabling the NHS to better plan how to make Covid-19 antivirals available for those who would benefit from them the most.

Panoramic is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, led by Oxford University’s primary care clinical trials unit, while delivery of the trial is supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

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