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Oxford trial seeks 6,000 volunteers to test Covid antivirals


Clinical trial is investigating potential benefits of drugs to vaccinated patients with underlying conditions

Researchers at the University of Oxford are recruiting thousands of volunteers to test antiviral tablet molnupiravir, to help the NHS develop plans for rolling out the drug later this year.

The Panoramic trial is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research and has already signed up over 4,500 participants but needs at least of 10,600 volunteers.

“Panoramic is one of the most important Covid-19 trials of recent times,” said Nick Lemoine, medical director of the NIHR’s clinical research network.

“It will rapidly produce the evidence needed to make these game-changing antiviral drugs widely available to the people who need them most.”

Antivirals are used as second line of defence, after vaccines, to slow down the virus once a person is infected, make symptoms less severe and complications less common.

The government Antivirals Taskforce has procured 4.98 million courses of two antivirals: molnupiravir and PF-07321332/ritonavir.

Panoramic aims to inform the wider roll out of these drugs, beyond the trial, to those most at risk from the disease, and those already vaccinated.

“Antivirals are a hugely important addition to our response to Covid-19 and we have secured access to two important products for NHS patients,” said Eddie Gray, chair of the Antivirals Taskforce.

“Getting people enrolled onto this study is vital, not just in protecting the most vulnerable now, but in ensuring we can deploy these medicines more widely as soon as possible.”

The recruitment drive is backed by the UK government and charities including Kidney Care UK, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Diabetes UK and the British Liver Trust.