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First UK trial to assess use of antivirals to treat COVID-19 set to begin

9 December 2021

The first clinical trial in the UK to investigate whether antiviral drugs could help reduce the severity of COVID-19 is due to start.

The trial is led by the University of Oxford and is being delivered in Wales by Cardiff University in partnership with Public Health Wales and Health and Care Research Wales. Cardiff University staff are also working directly with Oxford to support the central work required to deliver this study across the UK, as well as leading on one of the sub-studies.

The PANORAMIC study (Platform adaptive trial of novel antivirals for early treatment of COVID-19 in the community) aims to understand whether people at increased risk of severe disease could benefit from taking antiviral tablets.

It is hoped this approach could help reduce the severity of the virus, speed up recovery and avoid the need for treatments in hospital. The study will also provide more data on how antivirals work in a predominantly vaccinated population and inform future decisions.

Treatments include Lagevrio, which has already been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. The trial is open to those over 50, or people 18- 49 with an underlying health condition with a positive COVID-19 test (PCR or LFT) and symptoms for less than five days.

Dr Andrew Carson-Stevens, Principal Investigator for Wales for the PANORAMIC Study and Clinical Reader of Patient Safety from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: “This is such an important development in how we treat and manage COVID-19, especially to those most vulnerable, and I’m so proud that Wales will play an integral part.

“If you fit the study criteria, you will be randomised into one of two groups, one to receive the antiviral and standard care and another group which will receive standard care. If you are in the group to receive the new antiviral treatments, you will be sent your medication in the post. Everyone involved will be asked to fill out a daily symptom diary online.”

Professor Kerry Hood, Director of The Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University, who is also representing Wales on the Oxford trial team, said: “Key to this study is starting treatment as early as possible, so it is vital that you get a COVID test if you are feeling unwell and register for the study as soon as you get your results.

“Having effective treatments for people with mild-moderate COVID is essential for us to reduce the impact of this infection on our families and communities.”

Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Support and Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, which is nationally co-ordinating recruitment to the study in Wales, said anyone in Wales could take part, regardless of where they live.

“If you test positive you will receive a text directing you to the PANORAMIC website to register and we encourage people to act quickly as treatment must be started within five days of symptoms starting,” she said.

Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Care, Welsh Government, said: “I welcome today’s news of the new study and Wales’s involvement. In addition to the trial, if you are at highest risk of severe COVID-19 and extremely vulnerable you may receive neutralised monoclonal antibody treatment or an antiviral treatment as part of your standard care and will be contacted by your health board if you test positive.”

If you have a positive COVID-19 test will receive a text from Health and Care Research Wales with a link to the PANORAMIC study website. If you do a test at home that is positive, then you can register straight onto the website.

More information about what to expect from the study in Wales can be found on the Health and Care Research Wales website.

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