We are updating this page as more information becomes available.
Some people with Crohn’s or Colitis will now be eligible for new COVID-19 treatments to have at home or in special clinics called CMDUs. People at highest risk of developing serious complications of COVID-19 will be able to quickly access either an infusion (an injection into a vein) or tablets to help fight off the infection. This applies to all parts of the UK.
The UK government has announced two COVID-19 treatment programmes which will help give some reassurance to those people at higher risk of illness from COVID-19. It may be of particular benefit for those people with weaker antibody responses to the vaccines.
The first scheme is a national trial looking at an antiviral tablet. This is called the PANORAMIC trial. The other scheme is for those at highest risk, who will be eligible for quick access to an infusion or tablet.
- Updated 'Direct access to treatment' section, including eligibility criteria.
A CMDU is a COVID-19 Medicine Delivery Unit. These are centres set up to organise and deliver the new COVID-19 treatments in the community.
The PANORAMIC trial will study how well an antiviral tablet called molnupiravir (brand name is Lagevrio) works for people who are unwell with COVID-19 at home. It is for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 but at high risk of developing severe illness.
Molnupiravir is a medicine that has already been approved by the UK Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), an agency which assesses the safety of medicines. Molnupiravir has been studied in other smaller trials and has been shown to reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection in certain risk groups.
To sign up for the PANORAMIC trial you must:
- Currently have symptoms of COVID-19, and these symptoms started in the last 5 days AND
- Have had a positive PCR test for COVID-19 in the last 7 days AND
- Be aged 50 years or over OR
- Be aged 18 or over with a condition that puts you at higher risk of COVID-19 complications OR
- Be aged 18 or over and taking a treatment that puts you at higher risk of COVID-19 complications
This would mean that many people with Crohn’s or Colitis will be eligible to sign up. If you take part in the trial you will be given either the new medicine to take, or usual NHS care. The treatment you receive will be chosen at random. You will then be asked to keep a diary of your symptoms. You will also be given emergency contact details in case you become more unwell.
Visit the PANORAMIC trial website to find out if you're eligible to take part in this trial and to sign up.
From 16 December, people at highest risk of complications from COVID-19 will be able to quickly access treatment if they develop COVID-19. The two treatments are:
- Monoclonal antibody treatment given via an intravenous drip (a slow injection into a vein),
- OR, (if not practical or safe to give monoclonal antibodies), molnupiravir, an antiviral tablet
If you are in the highest risk group you should soon get a letter or email from the NHS with further information. This will tell you how you may be able to get treatment if you develop COVID-19. You will also be sent a PCR test to use as soon as you have symptoms or think that you might have COVID-19. This means that you will be able to start treatment as soon as possible after your symptoms have started.
If your PCR test is positive your local CMDU should then contact and assess you. If they think that one of the new treatments is suitable for you, they will organise for you to have one of the medicines if it is safe to do so. It is important to note that receiving a letter or email does not guarantee that you will receive the treatment. A clinician at a CMDU will assess you first and make the final decision.
We understand that monoclonal antibody treatment will be given at one of the CMDUs, but this may change. We will update our information as further details are available.
It is likely that the following people with Crohn’s or Colitis would be eligible for direct access to treatment:
- If you are currently taking steroids or ciclosporin
- If you currently have active or unstable disease AND currently taking any biologic medicine or JAK inhibitor, or a combination of a biologic medicine and azathioprine, mercaptopurine or methotrexate.
We are seeking further clarification about who will be eligible for treatment and will update our information when further details are available.
What should I do if I'm eligible but not had a letter or email?
If you have recently started medicines that would make you eligible for treatment, you may not be automatically contacted.
If you think you are eligible but not had a letter or email you should speak to your GP or call 111 for a referral.
If you have had a positive PCR test and think you are eligible for treatment call your GP or 111 and they may be able to make an urgent referral.
What should I do if I have had a letter or email, but not received a PCR test kit?
If you have had a letter or email, but no PCR test kit, you are advised to call 119.
What if I've used my PCR test kit and need another one?
If you need a replacement PCR test kit you are advised to call 119.
What if my PCR test is positive but no-one has contacted me about treatment?
If you think you are eligible for treatment and no-one has contacted you within 24 hours of a positive test result you should call your GP or 111.
Further information on direct access to treatment can be found here.
Antibodies are proteins made by your body to fight infection. Monoclonal antibodies are similar to the antibodies that your body makes, but they are made by scientists in a lab.
Monoclonal antibodies work by attaching themselves to coronavirus. This stops the virus making more of itself. It also stops the virus causing further damage to the body.
Molnupiravir (brand name, Lagevrio) is an antiviral. It works by interfering with the DNA of the virus, which means the virus can’t make more of itself. This reduces your risk of becoming unwell as the virus can’t grow as quickly.
For more information, see the patient Information leaflet for Lagevrio.
Your vaccination status will not affect your eligibility for either programme. However, it's advised to get your vaccine (and boosters).
If you have COVID-19 and are seriously unwell (whether you have received treatment or not) call 111 or 999. Visit the NHS website for more information on the symptoms to watch out for.