Residents in Wolverhampton who test positive for Covid-19 are being encouraged to take part in a study which is providing life-saving antivirals to thousands of people.

The recruitment drive is backed by charities including Kidney Care UK, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Diabetes UK and the British Liver Trust, and adults who are aged 50 and over or who are aged 18 to 49 with an underlying health condition can take part.

Antivirals are medicines which can be swallowed as a tablet to help treat people with Covid-19 to reduce the risk of hospitalisations and death. Molnupiravir, which is currently being used in the study, has shown to reduce the risk of to non-hospitalised adults with mild to moderate Covid-19 by 30% – potentially saving thousands of lives once the drugs are available to the NHS.

People can sign up for the study at Panoramic as soon as they receive a positive PCR or rapid test result. They need to be experiencing Covid-19 symptoms that began in the last five days to be eligible to enrol.

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Vaccinations are the best form of defence against Covid-19, but antivirals also have a key role to play in helping to make symptoms less severe in vulnerable people with the virus, some of whom may not be able to have the vaccine for medical reasons.

"If you have recently caught Covid-19, and you are either over 50 or have an underlying health condition, you can play your part in helping medical experts find out more about the benefits that antivirals may bring to others who contract the virus.”

The UK-wide study is run by the University of Oxford and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), launched at the start of December 2021 and currently has around 5,000 trial participants signed up, but needs thousands more as soon as possible to gather the data necessary. 

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said: "If you’re eligible please give some serious consideration to taking part. This will help us decide how to use Covid-19 antiviral drugs for many years to come."

People who develop symptoms of Covid-19, no matter how mild, are reminded they must immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting GOV.UK.