Eligibility for Covid-19 treatments – Ataxia

Eligibility for Covid-19 treatments

Eligibility for Covid-19 treatments

Post Published: December 23, 2021

From 16 December, the NHS will be offering new antibody and antiviral treatments to people who have tested positive with COVID-19, who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill.

While ataxia has not been listed specifically as one of the diseases eligible for treatment, if you have previously been advised that you fall into the extremely vulnerable category (i.e. advised to ‘shield’) you should already be registered with the national Shielded Patient List (SPL) and therefore qualify for treatment should you test positive for COVID-19.

If you are eligible for a COVID-19 treatment, you should be sent a PCR test kit to keep at home. A PCR test is a test that you do at home and send to a lab to get the result.

Anyone with an ataxia diagnosis plus any of the below should be included in the ‘extremely vulnerable’ category:

  • Over 70 years of age
  • Additional comorbidites including: diabetes, cardiac conditions such as cardiomyopathy, or respiratory conditions such as chronic lung diseases
  • Wheelchair bound or living in a care home
  • On medication that suppresses the immune system
  • Pregnancy
  • Autoimmune ataxia receiving mycophenolate

If you require confirmation of your eligibility for treatment, this can be obtained from your GP or neurologist.

If you believe you are eligible for COVID-19 treatment and have not received a PCR test by the 10th January 2022, please call 119. Select the option for Test & Trace to request a PCR test to keep at home, noting that you may be eligible for COVID-19 treatments.

If you are eligible for treatment, you can also request a PCR test kit to keep at home by going online at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. When answering the question, ‘Why are you asking for a test?’, select ‘I’ve been told to get a test by my local council, health protection team or healthcare professional’, and then select ‘A GP or other healthcare professional has asked me to get a test’.

You can find out more information here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/treatments-for-coronavirus/

If you are eligible for treatment and you test positive for COVID-19, it is important to start the treatment as soon as you can. Treatments for COVID-19 need to be given within 5 days of symptoms starting in order to be effective. If you have not been contacted within 24 hours of your positive PCR test but you think you may be eligible for treatment, call your GP surgery or 111. Your GP or 111 will be able to make an urgent referral if needed. As of 10 February 2022, a positive lateral flow test can also be used as proof of Covid-19 infection.

Panoramic Trial

Antiviral medicines are also available through a national trial, run by the University of Oxford. Click here for more information on accessing treatment through this trial. The trial is open to people in the UK who:

  • have tested positive for COVID-19 using a PCR test
  • have COVID-19 symptoms that started within the last 5 days
  • are aged 50 and over, or are aged 18 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 (this includes chronic neurological conditions)

This information has been written in collaboration with Prof Giunti and Suzanne Booth from the London Ataxia Centre at NHNN.

Posted: 23/12/2021

Updated: 26/01/2022

Please understand that this advice is given on the basis of the limited information provided, and that neither Ataxia UK nor the Medical Advisor can accept responsibility for any actions arising from it. 


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