Coronavirus treatment and protection for people at high risk
If you get coronavirus (COVID-19) and are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill, there is treatment available. You might be at high risk if you:
- have a certain medical condition
- take medicines that can make it harder for your body to fight infection
We also offer COVID-19 vaccination and autumn boosters for people who are eligible. A booster is a dose (extra amount) of a vaccine that increases or renews the effect of a vaccine you had earlier. Your autumn booster might be your 5th or 6th vaccine.
Highest risk conditions and treatments
You might be at highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 if you have:
- Down's syndrome
- certain types of cancer or treatment for certain types of cancer
- sickle cell disease
- certain conditions affecting your blood
- stage 4 or 5 of chronic kidney disease
- severe liver disease
- had an organ transplant
- certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions (when your immune system attacks your body by mistake), such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease
- HIV or AIDS and a weakened immune system
- a condition that affects your immune system
- a rare condition that affects the brain or nerves (multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease or myasthenia gravis)
COVID-19 treatment if you are at high risk
We offer antibody and antiviral treatments if you have COVID-19 and are at high risk of becoming seriously ill. These treatments can help some people to manage their COVID-19 symptoms and reduce the risk of getting seriously ill.
The NHS tells you which treatment is suitable for you.
Who can have COVID-19 treatment
You can only have COVID-19 treatment if you have not been admitted to hospital and all the conditions below apply.
- You're aged 12 or over.
- You're at highest risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.
- You have symptoms of COVID-19, which are not getting better.
- You have tested positive for COVID-19 (which means that it is likely you had COVID-19 when the test was done).
If you are not eligible now, you might be in the future. The rules change quite often as more information about COVID-19 becomes available.
Reporting your positive test result for treatment
When you do a test for COVID-19, you must report your result. The NHS can then contact you about treatment if your result is positive and you have COVID-19.
If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, take a rapid lateral flow test as soon as possible. You need to do this even if your symptoms are mild. A rapid lateral flow test shows you the result on a device that comes with the test.
You can find a list of COVID-19 symptoms on the NHS website.
You can report your test result on the GOV.UK website or call 119 free of charge.
If you have reported your positive test result, the NHS will usually call you within 24 hours of your result. The NHS gives you more information and asks questions to check if treatment is right for you.
If the NHS does not contact you within 24 hours of your positive test but you are eligible for COVID-19 treatment, call your GP surgery, specialist or 111.
What treatment you might have
The treatments currently available for COVID-19 are:
- nirmatrelvir (Paxlovid) and ritonavir (Norvir®)
- sotrovimab (Xevudy)
- remdesivir (Veklury®)
- molnupiravir (Lagevrio)
These treatments are for people who have not been admitted to hospital with COVID-19.
If you have missed any doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, it's important to have them as soon as possible.
COVID-19 is more serious in older people and people with some health conditions. This winter it is expected that there may be high levels of respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and flu. That may put extra pressure on hospitals and other healthcare services.
For these reasons, an autumn booster is being offered to people at high risk of complications from COVID-19 infection. This booster should help to reduce your risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 during the winter.
If you have a severely weakened immune system, you should get an extra primary (main) dose before having a booster.
You can have your autumn booster if at least 3 months have passed since your last dose of vaccine.
You are eligible for an autumn booster dose if you are:
- aged 50 or over
- aged 5 and over and at high risk from COVID-19 due to a health condition or weakened immune system
- aged 5 and over and live with someone who has a weakened immune system
- aged 16 and over and a paid or unpaid carer
- living or working in a care home for older people
- a frontline health and social care worker
Find out more about our vaccination centres and how to book an appointment.
COVID-19 autumn booster and the flu vaccine
Some people who can get an autumn booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are also eligible for the annual flu vaccine. If you are offered both vaccines, it's safe to have them at the same time.
The NHS website has more information about the flu vaccine.
The NHS no longer sends you a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kit to keep at home.
If you are eligible for COVID-19 treatment, make sure that you have some rapid lateral flow tests at home. You can then test yourself quickly if you get COVID-19 symptoms.
If you do not have tests at home or need more tests, you can:
- order free rapid lateral flow test kits from GOV.UK
- call 119 free of charge
Do not use a test that you have bought online or from a pharmacy or shop. You cannot report a result from a test that you have bought privately on the GOV.UK website. This means that the NHS cannot contact you about COVID-19 treatment.
Resource number: 5330
Last reviewed: November 2022
Next review due: November 2025