Over-50s and vulnerable urged to join antiviral Covid-19 trial

The treatment being used in the trial is the drug molnupiravir. Credit: PA

Adults over the age of 50 and people with underlying health problems who contract coronavirus are being urged to join a trial testing antiviral drugs.

Officials have said that antiviral drugs – which can help alleviate symptoms and prevent people from becoming seriously ill – could help the country ease back to a sense of normality.

Anyone over the age of 50 or between 18 to 49 with an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk of Covid can sign up to the study as soon as they receive a positive PCR or lateral flow test result.

The study is open to those who test positive for the virus and had symptoms develop in the previous five days, with volunteers given pills to take at home.

Listen to ITV News' podcast - Coronavirus: What you need to know

Experts from the University of Oxford hope to recruit an additional 6,000 patients on top of the 4,500 who have already signed up to take part in the Panoramic trial, which was launched in December.

The treatment being used in the trial, molnupiravir, has already been approved by the UK medical regulator.

Researchers are examining how the drugs can be delivered in the NHS and which patients will benefit the most.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The vaccines are critical as a first line of defence, but antivirals form a vital part of our approach as we learn to live with Covid by preventing the most vulnerable from being hospitalised.

“If you’re eligible, please step forward for the Panoramic trial and play your part in a vital mission – helping us to learn more about medicines which could save thousands of lives.”

The call for more participants is being backed by charities including Kidney Care UK, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Diabetes UK and the British Liver Trust.