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Treatments for COVID-19

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
People at highest risk

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

  • are aged 85 years or over
  • have end-stage heart failure and have a long-term ventricular assistance device
  • are resident in a care home and aged 70 years or over
  • are resident in a care home and have a BMI of 35 or more, or have diabetes or heart failure
  • have Down's syndrome, or another chromosomal condition that affects your immune system
  • have certain types of cancer, or had treatment for certain types of cancer
  • have sickle cell disease
  • have certain conditions affecting your blood, including some types of blood cancer
  • have chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 or 5, including people on dialysis
  • have severe liver disease
  • have had an organ transplant or are on the organ transplant waiting list
  • have certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease
  • have HIV or AIDS and have a weakened immune system
  • have a condition affecting your immune system
  • have 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
  • have 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.

Find out more about people at the highest risk who are eligible for COVID-19 treatment on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) website

Treatments for COVID-19

The treatments available for people at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 are:

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.

Find a pharmacy that offers free COVID-19 rapid lateral flow 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
  • address
  • 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

If you need this information in easy read format, you can read it on the NHS England website.

Page last reviewed: 21 March 2023
Next review due: 21 March 2026