Ground-breaking Covid-19 antiviral treatment trial opens to recruitment in the east of England

Local GPs and healthcare professionals have today begun enrolling participants across the east of England to a first-of-its-kind clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of new oral antiviral treatments for Covid-19 – which can be safely taken at home.

The Platform Adaptive trial of NOvel antiviRals for eArly treatMent of Covid-19 In the Community (PANORAMIC) trial will rapidly assess a range of purpose-designed antiviral treatments which could help clinically vulnerable people with Covid-19 in the community recover sooner, prevent the need for hospital admission and ease the burden on the NHS. 

These new antiviral treatments are intended for use in the very early stages of infection, by people in the community with Covid-19 who are at higher risk of complications. 

Local people can join the study if they are aged 50 and over, or between 18 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that make them clinically more vulnerable. All participants also need to have had a positive Covid-19 test and be within five days of the onset of symptoms.

To enable the benefit of each treatment to be compared against standard care – a total of 10,600 volunteers are needed to take part in each arm of the study. Half of the participants will be randomly allocated to receive the antiviral treatment plus standard care, while the other half will receive standard care alone. 

The PANORAMIC study brings together GP practices, NHS 111, Test and Trace, care homes, pharmacies and other NHS and social care service providers from the east of England and right across the UK – who will actively identify potential participants, invite them to take part and support their participation.

Taking part is easy. Local people who receive a positive PCR test for Covid-19 will be contacted by the trial team or a local healthcare professional, such as a GP or a research nurse, to consider enrolling in the study. Alternatively, anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can also sign-up to take part in the study directly through the trial website:

All participants take part from their own homes, without needing to visit a clinic or hospital. Participants randomised to the group that receives an antiviral treatment will have their medicines sent directly to their homes by courier. Participants will keep a daily diary for 28 days through the PANORAMIC website or receive a phone call from the trial team on days 7, 14 and 28 to speak about their symptoms and any NHS care they have needed.

PANORAMIC has been designed as a ‘platform clinical trial’, meaning it can rapidly evaluate several antiviral treatments, as and when they become available. The UK Antivirals Taskforce has selected all treatments to be tested. The first treatment to be investigated through the trial will be molnupiravir (brand name, Lagevrio) – a COVID antiviral pill – which has already been licensed by the MHRA. 

The results from this highest priority national study will provide a clearer understanding on how antivirals work in the UK population – which has a high vaccination rate – enabling the NHS to better plan how to make COVID-19 antivirals available for those who would benefit from them the most. 

Serge Engamba

Dr Serge Engamba, Principal Investigator for the PANORAMIC trial at the Norfolk and Waveney NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Primary Care Lead for the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network Eastern, said: 

“The PANORAMIC trial is essential in finding new treatments which can combat the virus directly, giving those most vulnerable an additional chance to avoid hospital admissions and life-threatening symptoms. Its innovative approach may mean that new life-saving treatments are quickly identified and can be made available in the community. OneNorwich Practices Research Hub is very pleased to have been selected as one of the sites to carry out this ground-breaking endeavour, and we hope as many people can benefit from it as possible.”

Dr Nally and team

Dr Rhiannon Nally, Principal Investigator for PANORAMIC and GP at Wansford and Kings Cliffe Practice, Ely, Cambs, said:

“The Research Team at Wansford is delighted to have been selected to host the Panoramic Study, helping people in our local community to take part in this vital research. It is only with their involvement that we can find new, more effective ways to help those with COVID-19, so if you have had symptoms for less than 5 days please do think about joining the PANORAMIC trial.”

Helen Macdonald

Dr Helen Macdonald, Chief Operating Officer for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Eastern, said: 

“Our region welcomes the opening of this crucial study, particularly at a time when we face a further need for vigilance in the course of the pandemic. We will work side by side with our GPs and other NHS research teams to help run this important Covid-19 study. It is only through working together that we will make the breakthroughs we need, so thank you to all who join us.”

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