New coronavirus treatment being trialled by South West GP surgeries

  • Watch Lucy McDaid's report

Several GP surgeries across the South West are recruiting volunteers for a major clinical trial that, if successful, could help find new treatments for coronavirus.

Eligible volunteers with Covid-19 will get new antiviral drugs to take at home which could make recovery quicker and symptoms less severe.

The ultimate aim is to reduce the chance of hospital admission and protect those who are clinically vulnerable.

Symphony Healthcare Services, a network of NHS GP practices in Somerset and Devon, as well as Honiton Surgery in east Devon, are now contacting Covid-positive patients and inviting them to take part.

They join Newquay Health Centre in Cornwall, which started the trial before Christmas.

Dr Chris Krasucki is the Principal Investigator and works as a GP in Somerton. He said: "Although many people who are testing positive may have only mild symptoms, by taking part they will be doing their bit to help us decide how the new drugs work, and how they should best be used.

"This information is potentially of great value for the more vulnerable people in the community, and in a situation of rising case numbers in the future.

"It is also important to know whether the drugs help prevent Long Covid, a condition that is not often reflected in the regular statistics, but which I believe well over a million people in the UK are suffering from already."

People in Cornwall were among the first in the UK to benefit from the potentially ground-breaking trial.

Glyn Talling, from Newquay, decided to take part just days after taking a positive coronavirus test.

"I tested positive on Thursday and got the result on Friday morning, and I was called by the nurse the same morning," he said.

"She ran through some questions to check my suitability, and find out how I was feeling, my symptoms and their severity.

"First thing on Saturday morning I received the study drugs and started taking themimmediately. I had to take four capsules every 12 hours for five days. I’m also having to fill in a daily diary with similar questions to those asked by the nurse. It’s very straightforward, just five minutes a day."

Anyone aged 50 or over with the virus is eligible to participate, as well as anyone between 18 and 49 years with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable.

All people taking part also need to have had a positive test and be within five days of the onset of symptoms.

If you're interested in taking part, you can sign up here.