Hundreds in Norfolk to take part in 'game-changing' Covid pill trial

Covid antiviral pills

Antiviral Lagevrio (molnupiravir) pills, produced by Merck & Co. - Credit: Merck & Co

Hundreds of people in Norfolk are to take part in a trial of a "game-changing" coronavirus pill which can be taken at home.

GPs and healthcare professionals have started enrolling participants to take the antiviral pill, which health secretary Sajid Javid has described as a "gamechanger for the most vulnerable and the immunosuppressed".

Health secretary Sajid Javid

Health secretary Sajid Javid - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The molnupiravir pill (the brand name of which is Lagevrio), licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, is intended for use in the very early stage of infection, by people at higher risk of complications.

The OneNorwich Practices, made up of more than 30 GP surgeries across the city, is among those selected to take part.

The Platform Adaptive trial of NOvel antiviRals for eArly treatMent of Covid-19 In the Community (PANORAMIC) trial will test if the pill helps clinically vulnerable people with Covid-19 in the community recover sooner, prevent the need for hospital admission and ease the burden on the NHS. 

Covid antiviral pills

Antiviral Lagevrio (molnupiravir) pills, produced by Merck & Co. - Credit: Merck & Co

Local people can join the study if they are aged 50 and over, or between 18 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that make them clinically more vulnerable.

All participants also need to have had a positive Covid-19 test and be within five days of the onset of symptoms.

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To enable the benefit of each treatment to be compared against standard care, a total of 10,600 volunteers are needed across the east of England to take part in each arm of the study.

Half the participants will be randomly allocated to receive the antiviral treatment plus standard care, while the other half will receive standard care alone. 

The study brings together GP practices, NHS 111, Test and Trace, care homes, pharmacies and other NHS and social care service providers from the east of England and across the UK, which will actively identify potential participants, invite them to take part and support their participation.

Norfolk people who receive a positive PCR test for Covid-19 will be contacted by the trial team or a local healthcare professional, such as a GP or a research nurse, to consider enrolling in the study.

Alternatively, anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can also sign up to take part in the study directly through the trial website at www.panoramictrial.org

All participants take part from their own homes, without needing to visit a clinic or hospital.

Dr Serge Engamba

Dr Serge Engamba, principal investigator for the PANORAMIC trial at the Norfolk and Waveney NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and primary care lead for the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Research Network Eastern. - Credit: National Institute for Health Research

Dr Serge Engamba, principal investigator for the PANORAMIC trial at the Norfolk and Waveney NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and primary care lead for the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Research Network Eastern, said: "The PANORAMIC trial is essential in finding new treatments which can combat the virus directly, giving those most vulnerable an additional chance to avoid hospital admissions and life-threatening symptoms.

"Its innovative approach may mean that new life-saving treatments are quickly identified and can be made available in the community.

"OneNorwich Practices Research Hub is very pleased to have been selected as one of the sites to carry out this ground-breaking endeavour, and we hope as many people can benefit from it as possible.”