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Thousands of lives will be saved this winter by two ‘game-changing’ new Covid treatments being rolled out on the NHS today, ministers announced last night.

Vulnerable patients who test positive for the virus will be offered molnupiravir, a pill taken at home twice a day which slashes the risk of death by 30 per cent.

The Government has secured 480,000 courses of the antiviral drug, costing around £500 each. 

Initially, 10,000 Britons will be offered the drug as part of a trial being led by the University of Oxford, which will recruit patients through their GPs. 

Vulnerable patients who test positive for the virus will be offered molnupiravir (stock image), a pill taken at home twice a day which slashes the risk of death by 30 per cent

Vulnerable patients who test positive for the virus will be offered molnupiravir (stock image), a pill taken at home twice a day which slashes the risk of death by 30 per cent

Vulnerable patients who test positive for the virus will be offered molnupiravir (stock image), a pill taken at home twice a day which slashes the risk of death by 30 per cent

All over-50s will be eligible to sign up, as well as anyone with underlying health conditions including diabetes or heart disease.

They will also be eligible for Ronapreve, a treatment made of artificial antibodies which cuts deaths by 70 per cent. 

The drugs will be delivered to patients so they can be taken in the comfort of their own homes.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘The UK is a world-leader in rolling out innovative treatments and today is a historic milestone in our battle against the virus.’

In November, the UK became the first country in the world to approve molnupiravir for use after trials showed taking the tablet twice a day cuts hospitalisation and death by 30 per cent.

It works by interfering with the virus’s ability to replicate, preventing it from multiplying in human cells, which keeps levels low in the body and stops it progressing to severe symptoms.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) said: ¿The UK is a world-leader in rolling out innovative treatments and today is a historic milestone in our battle against the virus¿

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) said: ¿The UK is a world-leader in rolling out innovative treatments and today is a historic milestone in our battle against the virus¿

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) said: ‘The UK is a world-leader in rolling out innovative treatments and today is a historic milestone in our battle against the virus’

Ronapreve, the first drug developed specifically to combat Covid-19, is a cocktail of artificial antibodies administered through a drip and cuts the rate of death by 70 per cent.

However, it was designed with the ‘original’ Wuhan variant in mind and may not be as effective against the Omicron strain.

Professor Jonathan Van Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said: ‘Throughout this pandemic, we have rapidly identified and deployed some of the world’s best treatments for COVID-19 to UK patients – including dexamethasone, tocilizumab and sarilumab.

‘Antivirals will be a vital intervention for years to come, helping to protect those that can’t mount the same antibody response to the vaccines.

‘This is really positive news for the future of our response to COVID-19 – please sign up to the study if you’re eligible as soon as you can.’

Source: Daily Mail UK

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