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Treatments for COVID-19

The NHS offers treatment to people with COVID-19 who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill.

Who is eligible for COVID-19 treatment?

You’re eligible for a COVID-19 treatment assessment, without being admitted to hospital, if all the following apply:

  • you’re at highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
  • you’re aged 12 or over
  • you have symptoms of COVID-19
  • you have tested positive for COVID-19

People at high risk could include:

You may be at highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 if you have:

  • Down’s syndrome, or another chromosomal condition that affects your immune system
  • certain types of cancer, or had treatment for certain types of cancer
  • sickle cell disease
  • certain conditions affecting your blood, including some types of blood cancer
  • chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 or 5, including people on dialysis
  • severe liver disease
  • had an organ transplant
  • certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease
  • HIV or AIDS and have a weakened immune system
  • a condition affecting your immune system
  • a condition affecting the brain or nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease, myasthenia gravis, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or certain types of dementia
  • certain lung conditions or treatments for lung conditions

If you’re unsure if you are eligible, speak to your doctor or hospital specialist who can advise you.

Please note: This list is a summary and does not cover everything.

Find out more about people at the highest risk who are eligible for COVID-19 treatment on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) website.

How to get a COVID-19 treatment

1. You should keep lateral flow tests at home

You should keep lateral flow tests at home but only use them if you get symptoms.

Eligible patients can pick up free rapid lateral flow tests from a local pharmacy. This has replaced the online and telephone ordering services for free lateral flow tests provided by GOV.UK and 119. You can find out more about how to obtain lateral flow tests and the local pharmacies offering lateral flow tests on the NHS website.

When picking up lateral flow tests, the pharmacy may ask you questions about your medical history to confirm you’re eligible for free tests. If you have a copy of a letter or email sent to you by the NHS that says you’re eligible for COVID-19 treatments, please bring this with you. A letter or email is not essential but it will help to more easily and quickly confirm your eligibility.

You can also use tests you’ve paid for, for example, a test you’ve bought from a supermarket.

2. You should take a test if you have COVID symptoms

If you have COVID symptoms you should take a test immediately, even if your symptoms are mild.

If your test is negative but you continue to have symptoms, you should take another test on each of the next two days (three tests in total over three days).

3. Contact the NHS as soon as possible if you test positive

If you test positive, you should contact the Covid Medicine Delivery Unit (CMDU) directly via 01158 462 392 as soon as possible after you test positive so that they can consider referring you for an assessment for treatment. The phoneline will be open Monday to Sunday between 8am-4pm.

Treatments for COVID-19

The treatments available for people at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 are called antiviral medicines. Some are capsules or tablets that you swallow. Others are given to you through a drip in your arm (infusion), usually in a hospital or local health centre.

These treatments can help some people manage their COVID-19 symptoms and reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill.

You’ll be told which treatment, if any, is most suitable for you when you speak to a clinician on the phone.