UK planning to roll out 'game-changing' coronavirus pill before Christmas
- The rollout will aim to prevent vulnerable coronavirus patients from becoming seriously ill and needing hospital treatment
- The anti-viral pill Molnupiravir has been developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck
- The UK will set up a series of "COVID medicines delivery units" to help patients get the pill after testing positive
The United Kingdom is planning to roll out an anti-viral pill against COVID-19 as part of the National Health Service’s (NHS) treatment plan against the contagious disease, a report by the Sunday Telegraph stated. The pill, Molnupiravir, has been developed by American pharmaceutical company Merck and has been touted as "game-changing" medicine as it can be taken at home.
Molnupiravir, also known as Lagevrio, will be offered to the most vulnerable patients by Christmas.
The UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid is reportedly preparing to announce the start of the rollout of the pill, which the UK became the first country to approve last month. However, the timeframe for the start of the programme has not been confirmed yet.
The rollout will aim to prevent vulnerable coronavirus patients from becoming seriously ill and needing hospital treatment. Molnupiravir can be taken by those who have tested positive for coronavirus and have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness, such as obesity, being over 60, diabetes or heart disease.
The NHS will reportedly deliver courses of the pill to clinically vulnerable and immunosuppressant patients within as little as 48 hours of them testing positive for COVID-19.
The UK will set up a series of "COVID medicines delivery units" to help get the drug to patients as quickly as possible once they test positive for the virus.
Patients vulnerable to high risk of complications from coronavirus would be telephoned by their local COVID-19 medicines delivery unit to be offered the drug after they have tested positive, according to reports.
Most people are expected to be offered a course of tablets to take at home, but some people will reportedly be given the drug intravenously in hospital.
In October, the government announced it had secured 480,000 courses of Molnupiravir after a study showed it reduced the rate of hospital admissions and deaths by 50% in patients with mild to moderate symptoms.