People with a higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 can get free tests and treatment.
You can find out more about who is at higher risk here.
If you have a long term (chronic) liver disease, but you are not classed as higher risk, or if you are over 50, you might be able to get treatment as part of a trial.
Act quickly if you get COVID-19.
Treatments work best if you start taking them quickly. You will have to ask for treatment within 5 days of starting to have symptoms.
Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in adults can include:
- a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- shortness of breath
- feeling tired or exhausted
- an aching body
- a headache
- a sore throat
- a blocked or runny nose
- loss of appetite
- feeling sick or being sick
If you think you could have COVID-19 take a test as soon as possible
- Keep some COVID-19 tests at home
Keep some tests at home so that you can test yourself as soon as you get symptoms. Do a test even if the symptoms are mild and you don’t feel too bad.
If you are at higher risk from COVID-19 you will now need to collect free rapid lateral flow tests from your local pharmacy. You can find out more about this here.
This is a change to the previous system and will replace online and telephone ordering of tests.
You will need to answer some questions about your medical history. You can also ask someone to pick up the tests for you.
- Report your test result
Report your test result as soon as possible.
England, you will need to call your GP, hospital specialist, or NHS 111.
Northern Ireland, you need to report your test result online or call 119.
Scotland, you need to call your health board. You can find their number on this page. If you are away from home, you should call the health board for where you normally live.
Wales, if you think you are eligible you can self refer online here.
- If your test was negative
If your test was negative, but you still have symptoms of COVID-19 you should do a 2nd test the next day. And a 3rd test the day after that.
How do I get COVID-19 treatment?
If you are eligible for treatment, and you report a positive test, you might be referred for a COVID-19 treatment assessment.
You will be asked some questions to check if treatment is the best option for you. You might also be asked about any other medicines you take. It is important to tell them about all your medicines. This includes supplements, natural remedies and over the counter medicines from a pharmacy.
Treatments are free for people who are at higher risk. So the NHS will not ask you for any bank or card details.
If you have not received a call or text within 24 hours of reporting a positive test, contact your GP, your specialist, or call NHS 111.
In March 2023, local integrated care boards (ICBs) took over COVID-19 treatment in England. You can find your ICB here.
What are the treatments for COVID-19?
There are currently 2 types of treatment for people who are at higher risk from COVID-19:
Antiviral treatments stop the COVID-19 virus from making new copies of itself. This helps to stop you getting severe symptoms. It will also reduce the risk of you needing to go to hospital.
Most antiviral medicines are tablets or capsules that you can take at home. They are usually delivered to you. But you might need to ask a friend or family member to collect them from a pharmacy.
This might also be called a monoclonal antibody (MAb) treatment.
If you cannot have an antiviral treatment, you will be given a biological treatment instead.
The biological treatment for COVID-19 works by sticking to the virus. This stops the virus from getting into your lungs.
Biological treatment is usually given using a drip. So you will be asked to go to a hospital or a local clinic to get it.
If you are at higher risk from COVID-19 and you experience concerns when trying to access treatment, speak to your GP. You can show them this information and the links on this page. Please also let us know if you have difficulty accessing treatments so that we can take this up with policy makers. You can find out how to contact us at the bottom of this page.
COVID-19 clinical trials
The PANORAMIC TRIAL is being run by the university of Oxford. It is looking at how well antiviral medicines work for people who are over 50 or have a health condition.
If you join the trial, you will be asked questions about your health. You will then be randomly assigned to either the test or the control group.
- If you are in the test group you will be given an antiviral medicine
- If you are in the control group you will not be given an antiviral medicine.
You can not choose which group you are put in, so there is a 1 in 2 chance that you will not get the antiviral medicine.
People in both groups answer questions each day about how they are doing. This is usually done online but can also be done on the phone.
You can volunteer for the trial if:
- You have symptoms of COVID-19
- AND your symptoms started in the last 5 days
- AND you have had a positive COVID-19 test
- AND you are over 50, or over 18 and have one of the listed medical conditions
Listed medical conditions include:
- Long term (chronic) liver disease
- Liver transplant recipients
- Immunosuppression, for example due to immunosuppressant medicines or cancer treatment.
You won’t be able to join the trial if your liver condition is making you very unwell at the moment. For example, if you are being treated for a serious complication such as ascites or serious bleeding.
COVID-19 treatments are still developing and can change regularly. The information on this page was correct at the time of publication. To ensure you get up to date information you can also check the NHS website here.