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Oxfordshire rocker laid low by COVID backs trial

An Oxfordshire dad-of-two who suspects he caught COVID-19 while at a concert or football match has urged others like him to join a major new research trial.

Andrew Nixey, from North Leigh near Witney, took antiviral drug molnupiravir as part of the University of Oxford’s Platform Adaptive trial of NOvel antiviRals for eArly treatMent of COVID-19 In the Community (PANORAMIC) trial after testing positive for COVID-19.

The study is seeking people aged 50 and over or 18 to 49 with an underlying health condition who have tested positive for COVID to trial the drug, which is sent through the post, and provide feedback on their health.

It is hoped molnupiravir will help people recover quicker at home and prevent hospitalisation. More drugs will be added to the trial, which Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid last month hailed as a ‘new era’ of COVID research.

Mr Nixey, a director of an asbestos removal company, believes he caught COVID from a folk gig in Bristol last month, where he did not wear a face covering.

“It was quite a small venue on a boat which had ventilation but I guess it wasn’t as good as a normal building would be.”

Three days later, the avid Liverpool fan, who has had two vaccines and a booster, travelled to Anfield to watch his team face Aston Villa. He said: “What I found strange was, on the concourse bit where you get your cups of tea and something to eat, you’re advised to wear a mask but people don’t wear masks because they’re eating and drinking.

“I woke up on the Sunday morning and felt really groggy, full of cold, and thought I’d better do a lateral flow test just to check. To my surprise, it came back with the two lines.

“I booked a PCR in Witney, cancelled my plans for the next day or so and then got a text on the Monday morning to say that was positive as well.”

The 53-year-old, vocalist in rock band Trauma UK, said: “I had a phone call the Monday morning from my doctor's surgery to say ‘would you be interested in taking these tablets?’ I thought ‘yep fine!’

“They said they’d be sent out by courier and I’d receive them by lunchtime the following day. As soon as I got them I started taking them.”

Molnupiravir, brand name, Lagevrio, is the world’s first COVID-19 treatment approved to be taken by mouth at home, rather than intravenously at hospital. It works by interfering with the virus’ replication to prevent it from multiplying.

Mr Nixey said: “Once I took the tablets, I felt a bit of a boost as such. Within a couple of days, my head cleared. I felt a little bit tired but maybe that was down to the fact I wasn’t doing anything anyway. I feel quite well now.

“It’s no real hardship to do, it’s simple enough. If you feel fit and well and think you could do it, it doesn’t really take any great deal of time out of your day. Someone needs to do it.”

The study launched last month and has already enrolled over 4,500 participants from across the UK, including more than 75 from Oxfordshire, making it the UK’s fastest ever recruiting trial of its kind. It is being led by the university with support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

People aged 50 and over with COVID-19 symptoms beginning in the last five days with a positive PCR or lateral flow test can take part. People aged 18 or over with a pre-existing condition listed on the PANORAMIC website can also take part.

Half the participants are randomly allocated to receive the antiviral treatment and standard care while the other half receive standard care alone, so the two can be compared. Feedback is provided by phone or online questionnaire over 28 days.

People can sign up through the study website or by calling 0808 156 0017. Eligible people may also be contacted by the NHS and social care services to ask if they would like to take part.

Trial Chief Investigator, Professor Chris Butler, said: “It is early on in the illness, when people are still being cared for in the community, that treatments for COVID-19 could have their greatest benefit. So far, a lot of the research has focussed on finding out if well-known drugs can be repurposed to treat COVID-19. This trial will test whether exciting, new antiviral treatments that are more specific to COVID-19 help people in the community recover faster and reduce the need for treatment in hospital.

“Despite all the amazing support already given to the PANORAMIC study, we need even more people in the early stages of their COVID illness to urgently share their experiences with us. This will help us rapidly find out who will benefit most from the new treatments, so they can be given to the right people when they get sick.

“We urge everyone eligible who tests positive to consider signing up, directly through the website. By doing so they will be directly joining the hunt for new treatments to speed recovery and reduce pressure on our NHS.”

For more information about the study, visit