Report by Bairbre Holmes
People in Cumbria with a weakened immune system who are at greater risk from Covid could be offered a groundbreaking new antiviral pill.
The antibody and antiviral treatments are being offered to certain immuno-compromised patients.
If taken in the first five days of symptoms, they can reduce the risk of severe infection or hospitalisation.
Paul Fieldhouse, Clinical Director of Pharmacy at NCIC said: "When a patient is admitted to hospital with coronavirus, they are usually in the later stages of their illness and we can treat them with oxygen, steroids and in some cases immunotherapy medicines which are given through an intravenous drip.
"Clinical trials have shown that some immunotherapy medicines and a new antiviral medicine, have been successful in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in this group of vulnerable patients.
"Administering these medicines to patients much earlier will have a significant benefit to the patient and also reduce the numbers of people that need to be cared for in hospital."
North Cumbria integrated Care, who run hospitals across north Cumbria, have been trialling the new drugs on patients with a range of underlying heath conditions, including cancer, liver disease, immune deficiencies and neurological disorders.
For the first few weeks, the treatment was delivered to people as outpatients in the Cumberland Infirmary.
This week however the service has moved to Wigton Community Hospital.
The trust is one of the first in the UK to offer antiviral treatments for Covid. Paul Fieldhouse added: "With two monoclonal antibodies and an antiviral agent available now we anticipate being able to offer further new treatments from next month too."
Those patients who are eligible have already received a letter explaining that if they test positive they may be eligible for antivirals. Patients who are in the eligible group have been asked to contact 111 if they get a positive PCR test, to arrange this.
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