RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Children with compromised immune systems infected with COVID-19 have few options for treatment. It’s why researchers are working to enroll children into trials for a treatment pill.

“We’re really focused on these kids who aren’t as likely to respond to vaccination or aren’t as able to fight the infection,” said Dr. Zach Willis, an assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at UNC Children’s Hospital.

Willis said he’s not overly worried about otherwise healthy children infected with COVID-19. CDC data shows more than half of kids who end up in the hospital with COVID had at least one underlying medical condition.

For those under 12 or under 88 pounds, the only option for COVID treatment is remdesevir. The treatment requires patients to go to a facility for an IV infusion for three days straight. A pill can be ordered at a pharmacy for patients to take and recover at home.

“Children really need to have the option of being able to take a by mouth medicine that will reduce the risk of complications of severe COVID,” said Willis.

UNC Children’s Hospital is enrolling immunocompromised children in a trial for paxlovid. The pill proved to be 90 percent effective in preventing severe illness and death in adults with compromised immune systems.

“We wouldn’t have any drugs for this, any vaccines for this- if people didn’t step up to participate,” Willis.

What to expect from the trial

Participation in the trial needs to start within three days of a positive test. Children must be at least 6 years old and have an underlying condition for eligibility.

“Once you find out that a child has a positive covid test, they can reach out right away and we can get them into clinic within a day or two”

Children must be able to swallow tablet pills and meet weight requirements.

The trial would last about five weeks. During that time, participants will receive a pill to be taken orally twice a day for five days. Participants will need to attend at least eight study visits. That includes a combination of in-person and remote visits.

To join or screen your child, click here.

Willis knows participating is a big committment but its also the reason we’ve gotten this far in our fight against covid 19.

“People who have participated in trials of different vaccines and treatments really should be considered heroes,” said Willis.