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Almost 6,000 COVID-19 patients receive groundbreaking treatments in last 12 months


Almost 6,000 patients at highest risk from the effects of COVID-19 have received groundbreaking treatments in Northern Ireland’s Outpatient COVID-19 Treatment services (OCTs) in the last 12 months.


The treatments involve the use of antivirals and monoclonal antibodies which can be administered either via tablets or capsules that can be taken at home or through a drip in the patient's arm (infusion).


Since December last year some 5,900 eligible patients at highest risk of harm from COVID-19 in the community have received treatments which previously would only have been available to people who were hospitalised with the virus.



Praising the work being undertaken, Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Michael McBride said:


“I want to commend clinical teams across Health and Social Care, as well as officials in the Department of Health and PHA who have worked exceptionally hard to deliver this important treatment to some of the most vulnerable in our society.


“During the past year there have been many policy and guidance changes; to the testing regime, changes in treatments and introduction of new treatments in response to emerging evidence and changes in the course of the pandemic. It is an incredible achievement that HSC NI has been able to adapt and respond to these changes alongside other clinical and operational pressures to see over 5,900 treatments provided to those at highest risk of deterioration from COVID-19 infection.



“It remains vital that those who have not been vaccinated get their jab and those eligible for boosters come forward as soon as possible as vaccines remain our greatest defence against COVID-19. These treatments however continue to play a significant part in protecting those most at risk from this virus and also in helping to ease pressures on the health service.”


The treatments available are for people who have symptoms and have tested positive, using a lateral flow test for COVID-19, and are at highest risk of getting seriously ill. The new treatments need to be given quickly after a positive lateral flow test result to be most effective.  



Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Cathy Harrison said:


“Antivirals and monoclonal antibodies have been shown to improve survival and recovery time and provide an additional layer of support for patients. The roll-out of these treatments to the most vulnerable patients is a significant milestone in our continuing battle against COVID-19.


“This was made possible with the support and collaborative working of many healthcare staff across HSC from trust clinical teams to general practice and pharmacy colleagues."


Antivirals and other treatments provide a necessary additional line of defence for those who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID infection.



It is strongly recommended that everyone who may be eligible for a COVID-19 treatment should stay alert to the symptoms of COVID-19 and get rapid lateral flow tests to keep at home in case they develop symptoms.


Further information including on who is eligible, testing advice, how to report results and how to access treatment is available on the NI Direct- Treatments for coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage which is continually updated.

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