COVID-19 treatments

Paxlovid® and sotrovimab (Xevudy®) are COVID-19 treatments 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, nirmatrelvir 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.

How can patients access the treatments?

To access the treatments, patients must have COVID-19 symptoms and receive a positive result on a lateral flow test (LFT). In Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, patients should register their LFT results on the government website or by calling 119.

Starting from 27 June 2023, people in England can also use tests purchased from shops or pharmacies to gain access to treatments. However, it’s important to note that the result of a test purchased from a pharmacy or shop cannot be reported through the government website or by calling 119. This will not impact your ability to receive an assessment for treatment.

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 and 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 from your health board about participating in the trial, or you can sign up on the trial website.

After registering for the trial, people will be randomly assigned to either the treatment or control groups. 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 can 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.

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.

Accessing COVID-19 treatments operates differently across the four nations:

England

Keep LFTs at home:

  • From 6 November 2023, you can pick up free LFT kits from a local pharmacy if you are eligible for COVID-19 treatment. This will replace the process of ordering online or by calling 119. The pharmacy may ask about your medical history to confirm you are eligible for free tests.

Take your LFT if you have symptoms:

You will not be able to report the result of a test purchased from a pharmacy or shop, but this will not affect your access to an assessment for treatment.

Contact the NHS as soon as possible if you test positive:

  • From 27 June 2023, if you test positive, promptly contact your GP, healthcare team, or call 111. Let them know you have blood cancer and are eligible for COVID-19 treatments. They will assess your condition and consider referring you for a treatment assessment

Patients in England will no longer be automatically contacted by the NHS about treatments after reporting a positive COVID-19 test result.

Scotland

Keep LFTs at home:

Take your LFT if you have symptoms:

Contact the NHS as soon as possible if you test positive:

  • Call your local NHS Health Board. An expert clinician from the NHS will assess you over the phone and discuss the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

Wales and Northern Ireland

You should keep LFTs at home:

Take your LFT if you have symptoms:

The NHS will contact you when you have registered a positive result:

  • You will be sent information about accessing the treatments in your local area. An expert clinician from the NHS will assess you over the phone and discuss the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and haven’t been contacted by the NHS within 24 hours, call your GP or 111 to ask for access to the treatments.

How will the treatments be given?

In the first instance, patients will be offered Paxlovid. However, sotrovimab may be offered if Paxlovid is considered unsuitable.

Paxlovid is swallowed as a tablet (orally). Those receiving Paxlovid can get someone else to collect them or have a courier deliver the treatment to their home.

People prescribed sotrovimab will be invited to attend the CMDU or another clinical facility as it is given intravenously (into the vein).

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