PUBLISHED ON: 20 December 2021

People who are at most risk of becoming seriously ill if they get COVID-19 can now have drug treatments to try to reduce their symptoms. This includes people over 50 and people with breast cancer. Updated 14 January 2022.

A molecular biology laboratory bench with various test tubes, test tube holders, and pipettes. Equipment like this can be used to carry out PCR tests.

What are COVID-19 antiviral and antibody drugs?

Antiviral and antibody drugs are used to try to prevent serious illness in people with COVID-19.

These drugs should be used as soon as possible after a confirmed positive PCR test.

The drugs that may be available are:

  • Casirivimab and imdevimab (Ronapreve) and sotrovimab (Xevudy) – monoclonal antibody therapies
  • Molnupiravir (Lagevrio) – an antiviral drug

Casirivimab, imdevimab and sotrovimab have been made available for certain groups, while molnupiravir is part of a national study called PANORAMIC.

How do I know if having COVID-19 antiviral or antibody drugs is suitable for me?

The PANORAMIC study

To take part in the PANORAMIC study into molnupiravir you must:

  • Have a confirmed positive PCR test
  • Have had symptoms of COVID-19 that started in the last five days
  • Be aged over 50 or aged 18 to 49 with a health condition that puts you more at risk of severe illness from COVID-19

You can find out more about the health conditions covered by the study on the PANORAMIC study website.

The list of conditions includes people who are immunosuppressed due to illness or treatment, for example people who have recently finished chemotherapy. You should have been informed by your GP or treatment team if this applies to you.

Outside of the study

Those eligible for treatments outside of the national study include people who have recently completed radiotherapy or chemotherapy and people who have had a ‘solid cancer’ like breast cancer.

People who test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of developing serious illness from it, will be informed by letter or email that they may be able to receive treatments outside of the national study.

People who fall into this category will be sent a PCR test to keep at home so treatments can be given as soon as possible after symptoms begin.

If an eligible patient tests positive for COVID-19, they will be contacted by a healthcare professional by phone to discuss treatment.

Alternatively, you may be contacted by your specialist if they feel you are at risk. In which case you will need to order a PCR test.

If people feel they may be eligible, but haven’t received a letter, email or been contacted by their specialist, they should order a standard PCR test and contact their GP or treatment team if they test positive to discuss treatment options.

Being identified as being at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 doesn’t guarantee treatment with the drugs mentioned above, the aim is to raise awareness of these drugs and allow treatment to start as soon as possible if needed.

Where can I get more information about COVID-19 and breast cancer?

You can look at our coronavirus and breast cancer pages.

There is information on treatments for COVID-19 on the NHS website.

Cancer Research UK has regular updates.

Our Helpline team can talk to you about worries about COVID-19 risk, treatment and vaccines. You can contact them on 0808 800 6000.

Call our Helpline