From the 16 December, antibody and antiviral treatments from COVID-19 will be available to people at risk from serious illness, including those with WM, as soon as they test positive for COVID-19.
Previously the treatments were only available to people who were hospitalised with COVID-19, so this is welcome decision to allow people at risk to access the drugs before they develop serious illness.
Here, we'll break down what this means for people living with WM. We'll continue to update this page.
Last updated: 14 February 2022
What treatments are available?
There are two types of treatment available that help some people manage their COVID-19 symptoms and reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill: antiviral and antibody treatments. The drugs available on the NHS are:
- sotrovimab - antibody treatment given intravenously
- molnupiravir - antiviral treatment given as tablets
- Paxlovid - antiviral treatment given as tablets
- remdesivir - antiviral treatment given intravenously
Ronapreve is another antibody treatment that have been made available. However it has proven to be less effective against the Omicron variant. It is a combination of two drugs casirivimab and imdevimab.
Who can access these treatments?
People who have the highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 are eligible for the treatments, including people living with blood cancer. You doctor or a specialist will be able to confirm if you are eligible for treatment.
How do I access the treatments?
From 10 February 2022, people who are eligible for treatment will only need a positive lateral flow test to access treatment, not a PCR test as has been the case. This is welcome news, as many WMers have struggled to get their priority PCR test.
As previously, test yourself as soon as you get Covid symptoms. If you test positive on a lateral flow test, log the result online or by calling 119.
In England, logging your test should trigger a call from the Covid Medicines Delivery Unit (CMDU) who will assess your eligibility for treatment. However, we know because of the problems with the priority PCR tests this system might not work for some WMers (notably those who didn't receive their priority PCR or letter informing them of their eligibilty). Therefore, the advice is to call 111, your GP or your hospital team as soon as you test positive, instead of waiting to be called. All these three can refer you to the CMDU for telephone assessment. Make sure that you tell them that you are immunosuppressed and believe you are eligible for treatments. It might be helpful to show them this letter that was sent to hospital teams.
If you don't hear from the CMDU within 24 hours of referral, you should follow up again as it's important that they assess you as soon as possible. If you are still struggling with getting through to anyone to refer you, email email@example.com
If you're in Scotland or Wales, contact your local Health Board if you test positive using a lateral flow test. If helpful, you can use this letter in your conversations, if you are in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, contact your local Trust.
These documents might help you in any conversation you have:
This letter -it gives updated advice to hospital teams in England about Covid medicines, including how to refer patients to the CMDU
This letter - if you are in Scotland
What's the difference between antibody and antiviral treatments?
Antiobdy drugs give your body the necessary antibodies it needs to fight the illness. It is usually given to you through a drip in your arm, or by injections. You'll get these either your local hospital or health centre.
Antiviral drugs interfere with the way the COVID-19 virus enters our cells and prevent it from reproducing so easily, so decreasing the risk of serious illness.
Both treatments are safe and have shown to benefit people at risk from developing serious disease, especially if taken within days of a positive test.
You can read more about the types of treatment available on Blood Cancer UK.
I haven't received my priority PCR test but have tested positive for COVID-19, what should I do?
You no longer need a priority PCR test to access treatments. Simply log your lateral flow test result online or by calling 119. Then contact the relevant healthcare bodies (see the above section on 'How do I access the treatments') to get a referral for assessment.
PCR tests are still a good way to monitor your illness, so we recommend you take them if you test positive using a lateral flow test.
If you still have questions, don't hesitate to get in touch - call us on 0300 303 5870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org