LONDON - A pill to fight Covid-19 could be offered to patients before Christmas as authorities try to protect the most vulnerable from the Omicron variant, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The first at-home treatment for Covid is to be offered to patients by Christmas as ministers roll out the antiviral pill to help protect the most vulnerable from the omicron variant.

Sajid Javid, the British Health Secretary, is preparing to announce the start of a national pilot of Lagevrio, also known as Molnupiravir – the "game-changing" pill that Britain became the first country to license last month.

Under the plans, the NHS is expected to deliver courses of the tablet to clinically vulnerable and immunosuppressed patients within as little as 48 hours of them testing positive for Covid.

Hospital and GP leaders have been told the health service will be setting up a series of Covid medicines delivery units to help get the drug to patients as quickly as possible once they test positive. Last week, local health chiefs received a letter setting out health service plans to facilitate the rollout.

Whitehall sources said the deployment of antiviral treatments had become "even more important" in the face of the omicron variant, which has prompted the Government to extend the booster vaccine campaign to all adults.

On Saturday, the Cabinet's Covid operations sub-committee decided to reinstate a requirement for fully-vaccinated travellers to take pre-departure Covid tests before coming to the UK from this Tuesday in a bid to slow down the spread of the variant.

Under the plans to roll out Lagevrio, when patients deemed high-risk test positive their local Covid medicines delivery unit will telephone to offer them the drug. Most are expected to be offered a course of tablets to take at home, although some will be given the drug intravenously in hospital.

The rollout is intended to help prevent vulnerable patients becoming severely ill with Covid, avoiding hospital admissions. Britain has secured 480,000 courses of the drug, and ministers hope the national pilot will precede the routine rollout of antivirals to vulnerable patients.