A new unit recently opened at the Victoria Hospital became one of the first centres in the UK to offer ground-breaking new treatments to high-risk patients in the early stages of COVID infection.
The COVID-19 Outpatient Assessment (COPA) unit, which has opened last month within Ward 51 at the Victoria Hospital, offers rapid treatment to those at the very highest risk of the effects of COVID-19. These include transplant recipients and those with conditions such as Down's syndrome, sickle cell disease, cancers, severe kidney and liver disease, HIV/AIDS, and people with compromised immune systems.
The new treatments involve high-risk patients being given an infusion of a treatment called a monoclonal antibody, or alternatively an oral antiviral treatment called molnupiravir. These treatments support the immune system and reduce the chances of worsening infection, in order to try to avert more serious illness.
The new service was set-up and overseen by Deputy Director of Pharmacy and Medicines, Ben Hannan with the support of a large multi-disciplinary team of respiratory consultants, pharmacists and nursing staff. 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. Here 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.”
The new treatments offered at the Unit 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 COVID test. Patients receive these new treatments as outpatients in the unit and can return home shortly after.
The first patient in Fife to receive this new treatment was a man from Kirkcaldy, who was one of first patients in the country to be treated when he attended the new unit on 22 December 2021.
Patients in Fife considered clinically high risk due to their medical circumstances are now also receiving letters with information on how to refer themselves promptly for treatment should they test positive for the virus.
Dr Devesh Dhasmana is a consultant in respiratory medicine in Fife. Dr Dhasmana 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. These treatments do, however, provide a very effective treatment option in helping to reduce serious illness amongst those most at risk.”
For more information on the new treatments offered to high-risk COVID patients in Fife, and for details about eligibility and referral to new COPA unit, visit: www.nhsinform.scot/covid19treatments.
Image 1 – [DOWNLOAD]
Caption: First patient to receive the new treatment in Fife flanked by Senior Charge Nurse, Val Turner (left), and Staff Nurse, Wilson Imrie (right).
Deputy Director of Pharmacy and Medicines, Ben Hannan, describes the new COVID-19 Outpatient Assessment Unit and how it operates - [DOWNLOAD]