A new Antivirals Taskforce will identify innovative home treatments for UK patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 to stop the infection spreading and speed up recovery time, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
The taskforce will also look at opportunities to onshore the manufacture of antiviral treatments. The aim is to have at least 2 effective treatments this year, either in a tablet or capsule form, that the public can take at home following a positive COVID-19 test or exposure to someone with the virus.
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‘The success of our vaccination programme has demonstrated what the UK can achieve when we bring together our brightest minds,’ said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
‘Our new Antivirals Taskforce will seek to develop innovative treatments you can take at home to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. These could provide another vital defence against any future increase in infections and save more lives.’
The antivirals could be used alone or in combination with one another in order to increase effectiveness and reduce the risk of further mutations. The new taskforce will sit alongside the government’s existing Therapeutics Taskforce, which will continue its vital work to identify and supply treatments found to be effective in clinical trials, for all stages of a patient’s exposure and response to COVID-19.
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‘The UK is leading the world in finding and rolling out effective treatments for COVID-19, having identified dexamethasone, which has saved over a million lives worldwide, and tocilizumab,’ said Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary.
‘In combination with our fantastic vaccination programme, medicines are a vital weapon to protect our loved ones from this terrible virus. Modelled on the success of the vaccines and therapeutics taskforces, which have played a crucial part in our response to the pandemic, we are now bringing together a new team that will supercharge the search for antiviral treatments and roll them out as soon as the autumn.’