page

COVID-19 treatments

Many COVID-19 treatments, including Paxlovid®, sotrovimab (Xevudy®), remdesivir (Veklury®), molnupiravir (Lagevrio®) and Ronapreve®, have been made available to clinically vulnerable people, including myeloma patients, across the UK.

What is Paxlovid®?

Paxlovid is an antiviral treatment for people with mild to moderate COVID-19. It is a combination of two active ingredients, PF-07321332 and ritonavir. Paxlovid works by stopping the process of the virus making copies of itself (replicating) in cells. This keeps viral levels low in the body, which helps the immune system overcome COVID-19.

What is sotrovimab (Xevudy®)?

Sotrovimab is a monoclonal antibody treatment for people with COVID-19. It works by attaching to a protein on the surface of the virus called the ‘spike protein’. This stops the virus from getting into your cells and causing an infection. This can help your body overcome the infection and prevent you from getting seriously ill.

What is remdesivir (Veklury®)?

Remdesivir is an antiviral treatment used for treating COVID-19. Remdesivir stops the virus from replicating in cells, stopping the virus from multiplying in the body. This can help your body overcome the viral infection and may help you recover faster.

What is molnupiravir (Lagevrio®)?

Molnupiravir is an antiviral drug used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in people at risk of developing severe illness. It works by stopping the virus from replicating. This should block and/or slow the spread of the virus, reducing the level of the virus. This may help people with COVID-19 stay out of the hospital and feel better.

What is Ronapreve®?

Ronapreve is a treatment for people with COVID-19. It contains two drugs called casirivimab and imdevimab. Casirivimab and imdevimab are monoclonal antibodies, they work by attaching to a protein on the surface of the virus called the ‘spike protein’. This stops the virus from getting into your cells and causing an infection. This can help your body to overcome the infection and may help you get better faster.

How can patients access the treatments?

Only patients who have COVID-19 symptoms and positive PCR test results can access the treatments.

From 10 February 2022, patients with symptoms and a positive lateral flow test (LFT) can access treatments. The LFT must be registered via the government website or by calling 119. Follow up PCR tests are encouraged to aid with COVID-19 virus tracking.

The treatments can be accessed in two ways, through the PANORAMIC clinical trial or the NHS.

The PANORAMIC clinical trial

People living anywhere in England will be able to access molnupiravir through the PANORAMIC clinical trial from 8 December 2021. There are only 10,000 spaces on the trial.

The trial is an option for people who meet the following criteria:

  • Have a COVID-19 positive PCR test result
  • Have had symptoms for less than five days
  • Are aged 50 and over or aged 18 and over with a pre-existing condition that gives them a higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. This includes stem cell transplant recipients, people with immunosuppression due to cancer and/or chemotherapy. You can read the full list on the trial website

This gives myeloma patients the option to access this treatment if they test positive for COVID-19.

AL amyloidosis patients who are either receiving treatment or recovering from high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation will also have the option to access this treatment if they test positive for COVID-19.

If you are eligible, you may be contacted by a healthcare professional in your health board about participating in the trial, or if you like you can sign up yourself at the trial website.

After registering for the trial, people will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group or the control group. People in the treatment group will be given molnupiravir and people in the control group will be monitored.

If you are randomised to the treatment group, the treatment will be delivered to you at home the following day.

Direct access via the NHS

Clinically vulnerable people living anywhere in the UK will be able to access treatments through the NHS.

This is an option for people who meet the following criteria:

  • Have a COVID-19 positive LFT or PCR test result
  • Have had symptoms for less than five days
  • Are aged 12 or over with a pre-existing condition that gives them a higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. This includes stem cell transplant recipients, blood cancer patients and people taking immunosuppressing treatments. You can read the full list on the NHS website

This gives myeloma and AL amyloidosis patients the option to access these treatments if they test positive for COVID-19.

Patients who are either receiving treatment or recovering from high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation will also have the option to access these treatments if they test positive for COVID-19.

The NHS is contacting people who are eligible to receive these treatments, informing them how they can be accessed through their local health board if they test positive for COVID-19.

Eligible patients are being identified using the existing vulnerable patient lists. Recently diagnosed patients should ask their haematologist to write a letter to their GP confirming their eligibility for these treatments.

In England, patients will also be sent a PCR test kit to keep at home so they can get tested quickly if they have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste). Patients should contact track and trace on 119 to request a PCR kit to keep at home if they haven’t received one by 10 January 2022.

Patients who test positive for COVID-19  will be assessed over the phone by an expert clinician from the NHS, who will review and discuss with the patient what the most appropriate treatment would be for them.

In England, patients should be contacted automatically by an NHS COVID Medicines Delivery Unit (CMDU) following a positive PCR test result. If you haven’t been contacted within 24 hours of a positive result, contact your GP, or call 111 to ask for access to the treatments.

In Scotland, patients can access the treatments when they test positive for COVID-19 by contacting their local health board.

Patients in Wales and Northern Ireland will be sent information about accessing the treatments in their local area. If you test positive for COVID-19 and haven’t been contacted by the NHS, call your GP or 111 to ask for access to the treatments.

If you experience difficulties accessing COVID-19 treatments, read our Ask the Expert article on how to access COVID-19 treatments at home.

How will the treatments be given?

In the first instance, patients will be offered Paxlovid or sotrovimab. However, if they are considered unsuitable, molnupiravir or Ronapreve may be offered, provided it has been less than five days since their symptoms started. Remdesivir may be offered if symptoms began within seven days.

Those being prescribed remdesivir, sotrovimab, or Ronapreve will be invited to attend the CMDU or another clinical facility as they are given intravenously (into the vein). Paxlovid and molnupiravir are swallowed as a tablet (orally), so those receiving them can either get someone to collect them for them or have them delivered to their home.