The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Sajid Javid)
On 20 October 2021, the Government announced the procurement of two ground-breaking novel oral antivirals to treat UK covid-19 patients, supplemented by the announcement of additional volumes of these drugs on 22 December. I am writing to inform the House of the progress made on the platform adaptive trial of novel antivirals for early treatment of covid-19 in the community (PANORAMIC) national study and issue a call to action.
On 8 December, the PANORAMIC national study was launched by the University of Oxford. This study was set up so that comprehensive data can be collected on how well these antiviral treatments work in a highly vaccinated population before making these treatments more widely available in the NHS to patients in the most effective way possible.
This will ensure that both patients and clinicians have clear evidence and full confidence in taking and prescribing these treatments respectively across the UK. This has become even more important since the emergence of the omicron variant, as all research previously has been completed with non-omicron variants.
The first antiviral being studied is molnupiravir, which was granted conditional marketing authorisation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on 4 November 2021. The study has recruited 3,176 participants as of noon on 12 January 2022. This is excellent progress for a community-based trial in its first month, but it is crucial that recruitment ramps up significantly to generate results as quickly as possible.
We are encouraging people who receive a positive test for covid-19, are experiencing covid-19 symptoms beginning in the last five days, and are aged over 50, or are over 18 with certain underlying health conditions, to sign up to the study straight away.
The study is available to people in this cohort across the UK and it is possible to sign up from anywhere, with the treatment delivered to a participant’s house directly. To ensure eligibility for the study, those who wish to participate must sign up as soon as possible after getting a positive covid-19 test result as antivirals are expected to be most effective when taken at the earliest stages of disease.
Members of both Houses are requested to encourage constituents and others who may contact them to consider enrolling in the study online at www.panoramictrial.org or by calling the freephone number 0808 156 0017.
The Antivirals Taskforce is working across the health and care system in the UK, including NHS England and NHS Improvement, the UK Health Security Agency and our partners in the devolved Administrations to plan the wider deployment of antiviral treatments as data from the national study becomes available.
The Department of Health and Social Care will publish a further update in due course.