Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services
Following yesterday’s announcement of a UK wide trial investigating the benefits of the antiviral medicine molnupiravir in people at risk from COVID-19, I would like to update members on access to medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 for patients in Wales.
The PANORAMIC study (Platform adaptive trial of novel antivirals for early treatment of COVID-19 in the community) is the first clinical trial of its kind. The trial is being led by Oxford University and delivered in Wales by Public Health Wales, Health and Care Research Wales and Cardiff University.
People in Wales will be eligible to take part in the UK-wide study if they are over 50, or aged between 18 and 49 and have an underlying health condition, if they test positive for COVID-19 and if they’ve had symptoms for fewer than 5 days. Arrangements are in place for Health and Care Research Wales to contact people in the eligible groups if they test positive for COVID-19 and to invite them to participate in the PANORAMIC study. Further information about the trial is can be found at the PANORAMIC study website.
Since the early part of last year, a range of therapeutic interventions have been studied as potential treatments for COVID-19 and some have been shown to improve outcomes. A number of treatments have been shown to be effective in preventing deterioration of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 and now represent the standard of care in every hospital in Wales.
As the number of effective treatments for hospitalised patients has increased, attention has turned to identifying and treating people at the highest risk earlier in order to prevent hospitalisation. As such alongside the PANORAMIC study, we are also making arrangements to ensure those at the very highest risk from COVID-19 can access earlier treatment.
This will mean from next week the NHS will begin making the neutralising monoclonal antibody combination casirivimab and imdevimab, marketed in the UK under the brand name Ronapreve, and the antiviral molnupiravir, available within five days of symptom onset and a positive PCR test, where people are at the highest risk of COVID-19. This will include amongst others, people who have solid tumour or haematological cancers, who receive treatments that suppress their immune system, who have HIV, and those with some genetic and rare neurological conditions.
People in the eligible treatment groups will shortly begin receiving letters advising what they should do if they have symptoms and test positive for COVID-19. More information about COVID-19 treatments is available at COVID-19 treatments.