The first at-home treatment for Covid-19 could reportedly be offered to UK patients before Christmas as an attempt to protect the most vulnerable from the Omicron variant.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that Sajid Javid is set to launch a national pilot of the Molnupiravir antiviral pill, marketed as Lagevrio.
The newspaper said that under the plans, the NHS was expected to deliver courses of the tablet to clinically vulnerable and immunosuppressed patients within as little as 48 hours of them testing positive for Covid.
It said hospitals and GPs had been told a series of Covid medicines delivery units were being established to ensure the treatment gets to patients as quickly as possible once it is confirmed they have the virus.
Last month, the UK became the first country in the world to license its use – a move described as a “gamechanger” by Javid, the health secretary.
But just over a week ago, England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, warned its use may have to be reconsidered in the light of the emergence of Omicron. “I think we probably need to do a rethink of it just to make sure with the new variant, we’re targeting in the right direction.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The UK has proven itself to be a world leader in identifying and rolling out effective treatments for Covid-19, including through government-backed national trials.
“The government’s antivirals taskforce was launched to identify treatments for UK patients who have been exposed to Covid-19 to take at home, stopping the infection spreading and speeding up recovery time.
“There are a number of exciting opportunities in the pipeline and we will provide further details in due course.”