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New drug to reduce Covid hospitalisations in Wales

THE Welsh Government has announced that thousands of people will get access to antirviral drugs that reduce the risk of being hospitalised with Covid.

The drug, Paxlovid, can be taken at home and clinical trials have shown that it reduces the risk of hospitalisation from Covid by 88 per cent if taken within the first five days of symptoms appearing.

Other treatments have been available since December, with more than 700 people in Wales being treated with monoclonal antibody treatments or the antiviral medicine molnupiravir.

However, antibody treatments have to be administered at hospitals, while the new drug can be taken at home and is considered to be more effective than other antiviral medicines.

Alana Adams, principal pharmacist at the National Antiviral Service, said: “More than 700 people in Wales who are at very high risk have already been treated with antiviral and antibody treatments to protect them from the most severe consequences of Covid-19.

“As experts in medicines the pharmacists working in the National Antiviral Service have the knowledge and expertise to help people decide which treatment option is most appropriate for them.

“Paxlovid has been shown to have a greater effect on reducing hospitalisation than the antiviral medicines we use already, and unlike antibody treatments it can be taken at home.”

People who are eligible for treatment with Paxlovid will be contacted by telephone call or text message from Wales’ National Antiviral Service within 48 hours of reporting a positive lateral flow test result or a positive PCR test.

Pharmasists will ask questions to determine if the medicine is the best course of action to take for the individual concerned.

If so, Paxlovid will be delivered to their home within 24 hours. 

If Paxlovid isn’t suitable they will continue to be offered antibody treatments.

Minister for health and social services, Eluned Morgan, said: “I am delighted we are increasing the range of treatment options available the most vulnerable people in Wales if they get Covid-19.

“Antiviral medicines are more effective if people are treated as soon as possible which is why we now contacting people after they report a positive lateral flow test result as well as after a PCR test. 

“For most people having a full course of vaccination and a booster offers the most protection against severe illness, however a small number of people do not have a full response to the vaccine. 

“Antiviral and antibody treatments offer further protection for this group.”

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Those who are not in the highest risk group are still able to access the antiviral treatment through the PANORAMIC study, which is open to anyone over the age of 50 or between 18 and 49 with certain underlying health conditions. Paxlovid is being added to the study later this month.

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