A hospital has become one of first centres in the UK to offer ground-breaking new treatments to high-risk patients in the early stages of Covid.
The Covid-19 Outpatient Assessment (COPA) unit at the Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, Fife, offers rapid treatment to those at the highest risk of the effects of the virus.
It involves high-risk patients being given an infusion of a treatment called a monoclonal antibody, or alternatively an oral antiviral treatment called molnupiravir.
They support the immune system and reduce the chances of worsening infection, to try to avert more serious illness.
The new treatments can only be offered in the very early stages of the virus, and must be administered within five days of the onset of Covid symptoms and a positive test.
People being offered the treatments include transplant patients and those with conditions such as Down’s syndrome, sickle cell disease, and cancers.
Those with severe kidney and liver disease, HIV/AIDS, and those with compromised immune systems, can also being given the new treatments.
The service was set-up within Ward 51 of the hospital and overseen by Ben Hannan deputy director of pharmacy and medicines.
Mr Hannan said: “Throughout the Covid pandemic, a range of new treatments have been developed to help us lessen the impact of the virus and improve outcomes for those who contract it.
“In Fife, we have been at the forefront of this, contributing to vital UK-wide research efforts such as the RECOVERY Trial, and embracing new and effective treatments as soon as they are approved.
“The new clinic is an extension of this work and we hope this new development will help us in our aim to reduce the number of vulnerable people in Fife becoming unwell, and even dying after contracting Covid.”
Patients are dealt with first as outpatients in the unit and can return home shortly after.
The first patient to receive the treatment at the new unit was a man from Kirkcaldy.
He became one of the first in the country to be treated when he attended the new unit on December 22.
Patients in Fife considered clinically high risk are now receiving letters with information on how to refer themselves for treatment if they test positive for covid.
Dr Devesh Dhasmana, consultant in respiratory medicine, said: “We know that Covid infection can pose at risk to anyone.
“However, there are people with certain health conditions who are at very high-risk due to the effects of the virus.
“These new treatments have become available to us very recently and, when administered in the earliest stages of Covid, can be very effective in preventing the virus from causing more harm and reduce the chances of vulnerable people becoming seriously unwell.
“Importantly, these treatments are not a substitute for vaccination, which remains as vital as ever.
“They do, however, provide a very effective treatment option in helping to reduce serious illness amongst those most at risk.”