Latest advice on new COVID-19 treatments for people who have down’s syndrome and test positive

Last week, the NHS began offering new antibody and antiviral treatments to people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and who are considered at highest risk of becoming seriously ill. This includes people aged 12+ who have Down’s syndrome.

You can read more about the announcement here.

What happens now?

Everyone aged 12+ who has Down’s syndrome and is known to services, will be receiving a letter. The NHS will start posting them today, but it may take them a week or so to arrive. This letter will tell the recipient that they are eligible for new antiviral treatments if they test positive for Covid-19 via a PCR test. There will also be an Easy Read version of the letter sent.

The letter will also include a home PCR test, which is more accurate than a lateral flow test. If someone tests positive with a lateral flow, or if they have Covid-19 symptoms, they should complete the PCR test and send it back as instructed immediately. If this PCR test is then confirmed as positive, the NHS will contact the person giving them details of how they can access the new antiviral treatment.

It is vital that the person receives treatment within the first five days of a positive PCR test or getting symptoms.

Clinical trials have suggested these new drugs are very effective in preventing severe illness.

Read more about the main symptoms of Covid-19 

The preferred treatment option is an intravenous (drip) drug that would be given in a number of settings, like a hospital. There is an additional option of an oral drug (tablets), which can be taken at home. This is effective, but not as effective as a drip. The clinician should make a decision in discussion with the individual and their family as to which is the most appropriate treatment, especially if getting someone to a hospital would be difficult. Families can accompany their loved one to support them if they choose the hospital option.

We know that NHS lists may be incomplete, so if someone tests positive or develops symptoms, the family should contact NHS 111 or their GP immediately and outline that their relative has Down’s syndrome. They should ask to be put in contact with a clinician who will discuss how they access the new drugs through a local Medicine Delivery Unit (CMDU).

Treatments are available to anyone who has Down’s syndrome and is aged 12+ and tests positive for Covid-19 via a PCR test.

The above information relates to people in England only at the moment. We have been in contact with Welsh Government today (20 December 2021), who confirm access to these medications will be made available in Wales. They say they are now putting together their plan for how relevant people will be identified and given access. We will share any more information from them as soon as we have it.

Read more from the NHS here.

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