The NHS offers treatment to people with COVID-19 who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill.
Who can have COVID-19 treatment
You're eligible for a COVID-19 treatment assessment, without being admitted to hospital, if all the following apply:
- you're at highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
- you're aged 12 or over
- you have symptoms of COVID-19
- you have tested positive for COVID-19
Some treatments are also available through a national study to a wider group of people, including those aged 50 years old and over (or 18 years old and over with a health condition that puts them at increased risk of COVID-19).
Visit the Panoramic trial website if you're interested in taking part.
People at highest risk
You may be at highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 if you have:
- Down's syndrome, or another chromosomal condition that affects your immune system
- certain types of cancer, or had treatment for certain types of cancer
- sickle cell disease
- certain conditions affecting your blood, including some types of blood cancer
- chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 or 5, including people on dialysis
- severe liver disease
- had an organ transplant
- certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease
- HIV or AIDS and have a weakened immune system
- a condition affecting your immune system
- a condition affecting the brain or nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease, myasthenia gravis, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease or certain types of dementia
- certain lung conditions or treatments for lung conditions
This list is a summary and does not cover everything.
If you're unsure if you are eligible, speak to your doctor or hospital specialist who can advise you.
Treatments for COVID-19
The treatments available for people at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 are:
- nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir (Paxlovid)
- sotrovimab (Xevudy)
- molnupiravir (Lagevrio)
- remdesivir (Veklury)
Nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir, molnupiravir and remdesivir are antiviral medicines.
When being assessed for treatment, a doctor will advise which treatment is most suitable for you.
Some treatments come as capsules or tablets that you swallow. Others are given to you through a drip in your arm (infusion), usually in a hospital or local health centre.
These treatments can help some people manage their COVID-19 symptoms and reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill.
If you need to go into hospital for COVID-19, you may get other treatments.
How to get COVID-19 treatment
Local NHS organisations are responsible for arranging COVID-19 treatments. The way you get treatment will depend on where you live.
Your local integrated care board (ICB) can give you more information.
If you think you're in the highest risk group and need to access COVID-19 treatment, follow these steps to be considered for a referral.
1. Keep rapid lateral flow tests at home
If you're eligible for COVID-19 treatment, you should keep rapid lateral flow tests at home.
You may be able to pick up free rapid lateral flow test kits from your local pharmacy if you're eligible for COVID-19 treatment.
Your local integrated care board (ICB) may be able to give you more information on where you can collect free tests.
The pharmacy may ask you questions about your medical history to confirm you’re eligible for free tests. If you have a copy of a letter or email sent to you by the NHS that says you’re eligible for COVID-19 treatment, take this with you. A letter or email is not essential, but it will help the pharmacy to confirm you’re eligible for free tests more easily.
Someone else can collect free tests on your behalf, for example, a friend, relative or carer. If you do not have a friend, relative or carer who can collect your tests for you, you may be able to book a volunteer responder by calling 0808 196 3646.
Anyone collecting free tests on your behalf needs to give the pharmacy your details, including your:
- full name
- date of birth
- NHS number (if available)
- medical condition(s) to confirm your eligibility
They should also bring any copies of letters or emails that have been sent to you by the NHS about COVID-19 treatments.
2. Take a rapid lateral flow test if you get symptoms
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, take a rapid lateral flow test as soon as possible, even if your symptoms are mild. Only take a test if you have symptoms.
You can also use tests you've paid for, for example, a test you've bought from a supermarket or pharmacy.
3. If your test is positive, call your GP surgery, NHS 111 or hospital specialist
Call your GP surgery, NHS 111 or hospital specialist as soon as possible if your test result is positive.
They'll decide if you need a referral for an assessment for COVID-19 treatment or may carry out the assessment themselves.
As part of the assessment, you may be asked what other medicines you take or receive, including any vitamins and minerals, so it's important to have a list of these ready.
If you're eligible for treatment, it's important to start the treatment as soon as you can. Treatments for COVID-19 need to be given quickly after your symptoms start to be effective.
If you’re prescribed capsules or tablets, the medicine can be collected on your behalf by someone else, such as a friend or relative. You’ll be advised where the medicine can be collected from. Alternatively, the NHS may be able to arrange for the medicine to be delivered to you.
If the treatment needs to be given as 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.
4. If your test is negative, do a total of 3 tests over 3 days
If your test result is negative, but you still have symptoms of COVID-19, you need to do a total of 3 rapid lateral flow tests over 3 days.
For example, if you did your first test today, you should do a 2nd test tomorrow and a 3rd test the day after.
If any test result is positive, you can stop testing and call your GP surgery, NHS 111 or hospital specialist as soon as possible.
More information on treatments for COVID-19
- Find your ICB (local integrated care board) to access COVID treatments in your area
- GOV.UK: nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid) patient information leaflet
- GOV.UK: sotrovimab (Xevudy) patient information leaflet
- GOV.UK: molnupiravir (Lagevrio) patient information leaflet