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Health minister welcomes new treatments for COVID-19 patients

The treatments are being offered as an addition to vaccinations to maximise protection against COVID-19.

Xevudy (sotrovimab) has been approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and will be distributed in due course. It is given intravenously (IV) as an IV infusion over 30 minutes and can reduce the risk of death and hospitalisation by 79% in high-risk adults with COVID-19.

Xevudy works by binding the spike protein on the outside of the virus and prevents the virus from attaching to and entering human cells.

Other treatments include the oral antiviral Molnupiravir, which was approved by the MHRA on 04 November 2021. Another treatment is the monoclonal antibody treatment Ronapreve, which has only been used in hospitals until now.

Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann said: “We have repeatedly seen how the extraordinary efforts of scientists have helped us in the fight against this virus. From the development of life-saving vaccines to the creation of these new treatments, we should all be tremendously grateful to the experts that have helped get us this far.”

While most COVID-19 treatments have focused on hospitalised patients until now, new treatments have been authorised for use in eligible non-hospitalised patients to reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death.

Swann added: “The approval of these drugs by the MHRA, and their deployment here in Northern Ireland and across the UK will be hugely beneficial for those patients who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19. Importantly, these ground-breaking treatments will help to reduce pressures on our over-stretched health service by keeping people out of the hospital.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have always been clear that we need to fight COVID-19 on all fronts. While these antivirals are an excellent addition, it remains vital that those who have not been vaccinated get their jab as soon as possible, and that those who are eligible for their booster come forward. This will ensure as many people as possible are protected over the coming months.”