The antiviral treatment Paxlovid is the second treatment to be added to the PANORAMIC study. The drug has been given to 6,000 patients already, as it has been available since February to those ‘at highest risk’ from COVID-19 who test positive, such as the immunocompromised, cancer patients or those with Down’s Syndrome.
Launched in December 2021, the PANORAMIC study has so far recruited over 20,000 people nationwide and was set up to find new treatments that help those suffering with COVID-19 at home and in the community get better quicker and without needing to be treated in hospital. Most people with COVID-19 are treated in the community and so we need to find treatments that are suitable and effective for use early in the illness.
“It is early on in the illness, when people are still being cared for in the community, that treatments for COVID could have their greatest benefit. The PANORAMIC trial is testing whether novel, promising antiviral treatments help people suffering from COVID in the community to recover faster and reduce the need for treatment in hospital.
“It is critically important that new treatments are tested on people and in the situation where they are intended to be used. Joining the PANORAMIC trial will help ensure people with COVID, and indeed the NHS, get the maximum benefit from these precious treatments.”- Prof Chris Butler, GP and co-Chief Investigator for the Trial
While Molnupiravir and Paxlovid have both been through clinical trials and are already approved for treatment for those ‘at highest risk’ from COVID-19 who test positive, such as the immunocompromised, cancer patients or those with Down’s Syndrome, we still need to know how well they might work where much of the adult population is vaccinated. This ensures antivirals are being used in the most effective way and is crucial in ensuring clinicians have the full information to prescribe antiviral treatments to patients in future.
The introduction of Paxlovid will allow a further 17,500 patients to enrol in the study, giving them a chance to access another ground-breaking treatment, which has been shown to reduce the relative risk of death or hospitalisation by 88% in clinical trials.
The study is open to adults over the age of 50 or those aged 18 to 49 with an underlying health condition that can increase the risk of developing severe COVID-19, who have received a positive test result, and who are experiencing symptoms that started in the previous five days.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
“As we learn to live with Covid, the UK continues to lead the way in using cutting-edge treatments which have already saved the lives of many of the country’s most vulnerable patients.
“The addition of Paxlovid to the ground-breaking PANORAMIC study is an important milestone and will help us understand who benefits most from these treatments.
“If you’re aged 50 and over or have an underlying health condition and test positive for Covid, I urge you to participate in this study by signing up as soon as you can.”
Antivirals are treatments used to either treat those who are infected with a virus or protect exposed individuals from becoming infected. The government, through the Antivirals Taskforce, has procured 4.98 million courses of antivirals in total - more per head than any other country in Europe.
Whilst vaccines remain the most important first line of defence, antivirals target the virus at an early stage, preventing progression to more severe, or even critical, symptoms.
Professor Paul Little, from the University of Southampton and Co-Chief Investigator, said:
“The PANORAMIC trial is one of the most ambitious ever undertaken in the community worldwide. The inclusion of Paxlovid in the trial is an exciting addition that will provide vital information about treatments to help the most vulnerable people in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”
Professor Nick Lemoine CBE, National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) said:
“The addition of Paxlovid into the NIHR-supported PANORAMIC trial represents an exciting development. While smaller-scale studies have already shown this new antiviral treatment to be highly effective against COVID-19 in the early stages of infection, additional evidence from much larger cohorts is needed to enable clinicians and health services to make best use of these exciting new treatments.
“With over 23,000 participants having taken part in PANORAMIC so far - the world’s largest platform trial into new antiviral treatments against COVID-19 - collectively the UK is providing vital additional data which will enable rapid deployment and best use of these new potentially life-saving treatments to patients who will benefit from them the most.”
The PANORAMIC study is UK wide, although initially recruitment will only be available in England for Paxlovid. The Department of Health and Social Care is working with counterparts in the Devolved Administrations to develop plans for how this arm could be started in all four nations in due course.
Registration for the PANORAMIC study will be paused over the Easter period, from the end of 12 April, and will reopen online late on 18 April. The study office will reopen on 19 April.