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Treatments for coronavirus (COVID-19)

The NHS is offering new antibody and antiviral treatments to people with coronavirus (COVID-19) who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill.

2 types of COVID-19 treatment are available:

Sotrovimab is a biological medicine. It is also known as a neutralising monoclonal antibody (nMAb).

Molnupiravir is an antiviral medicine.

These treatments can help some people manage their COVID-19 symptoms and reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill.

Who can have a COVID-19 treatment

Treatments for COVID-19 are for people aged 12 and over who:

  • are at highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
  • have symptoms of COVID-19 that started within the last 5 days
  • have tested positive for COVID-19 by PCR within the last 5 days

People at highest risk

You may be at highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 if you have:

  • Down's syndrome
  • sickle cell disease
  • HIV or AIDS
  • chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 or 5
  • certain types of cancer
  • had certain types of chemotherapy in the last 12 months
  • had radiotherapy in the last 6 months
  • had an organ transplant
  • a severe liver condition (such as cirrhosis)
  • a rare condition affecting the brain or nerves (multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease or myasthenia gravis)
  • certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease)
  • a condition or treatment that makes you more likely to get infections

A doctor or specialist will confirm if you are eligible for treatment.

How was this list decided?

The list of health conditions has been agreed by the UK Chief Medical Officers.

It's based on advice from an independent advisory group of health experts commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Information:

COVID-19 treatments research

Antiviral medicines such as molnupiravir are also available through a national study, run by the University of Oxford.

The study is open to people in the UK who:

  • have tested positive for COVID-19 using a PCR test
  • have COVID-19 symptoms that started within the last 5 days
  • are aged 50 and over, or are aged 18 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19

If you take part in the study you may be randomly selected to receive the antiviral medicine.

Find out more about the University of Oxford COVID-19 antiviral study on the Panoramic trial website

How to get a COVID-19 treatment

Take a PCR test if you get symptoms

If you are eligible for a COVID-19 treatment, NHS Test and Trace will send you a PCR test kit to keep at home. A PCR test is a test that you can do at home and send to a lab to find out if you have COVID-19.

You will be given a test kit so you can get tested quickly if you 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).

You should take the test as soon as possible, even if your symptoms are mild.

When registering your test, it's important to enter your NHS number and postcode correctly. This is so the NHS can contact you about treatment if you test positive for COVID-19.

If you use your test, NHS Test & Trace will send you a replacement.

You can find PCR home test kit instructions for people eligible for COVID-19 treatments on GOV.UK.

Information:

If you have not received a test kit to keep at home but you think you may be eligible for treatment, call 119 for advice.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 and have not yet received a test kit, you can get a PCR test on GOV.UK.

What happens if you test positive

If you're eligible for treatment and you test positive for COVID-19, it's important to start the treatment as soon as you can. Treatments for COVID-19 need to be given within 5 days of symptoms starting to be effective.

The NHS will usually contact you within 24 hours of your positive PCR test result. This will usually be by text, email or phone call.

They'll give you more information and ask questions to check if treatment is right for you.

They may ask what other medicines you take or receive, including any vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to have a list of these ready.

Treatments for COVID-19 are free of charge on the NHS. The NHS will never ask for your bank account or card details, or ask you to pay for treatment.

Information:

If you have not been contacted within 24 hours of your positive PCR test but you think you may be eligible for treatment, call your GP surgery or call 111. You cannot get help for this online.

Your GP or 111 will be able to make an urgent referral if needed.

Which treatment will I get?

The NHS will advise which treatment, if any, is suitable for you.

Sotrovimab is given to you through a drip in your arm (infusion). You'll usually get it at your local hospital or in a local health centre.

You'll get instructions on where to get the treatment and how to get there and back safely.

If you are given molnupiravir, it normally comes as capsules you swallow and they can be taken at home.

A hospital pharmacy will usually arrange for the medicine to be delivered to you or it can be collected by someone else such as a friend, relative or NHS volunteer responder.

More information:

If you need information in easy read format or in a different language you can read information about treatments for COVID-19 on the NHS England website.

Page last reviewed: 19 January 2022
Next review due: 2 February 2022