The UK government has launched a new Antivirals Taskforce in a bid to identify promising home treatments for people who have been exposed to COVID-19.
The new taskforce will begin the search for novel antiviral medicines that can be taken at home to curb the spread of COVID-19 infection and also speed up recovery time for patients.
The taskforce will support treatments through clinical trials to enable the rapid roll-out of any promising medicines to patients as early as Autumn.
In addition to identifying novel treatments, the taskforce will also identify opportunities to manufacture antiviral medicines.
All told, the government is aiming to have at least two effective treatments in its arsenal this year, either in a tablet or capsule form.
The antivirals selected may be used alone or in combination with one another to bolster their effectiveness and reduce the risk of further mutations.
The aim will be for the public to take these medicines at home following a positive COVID-19 test or after exposure to someone who has the virus.
The Antivirals Taskforce will coexist with the government’s existing Therapeutics Taskforce, which will continue to identify and supply effective treatments for all stage of COVID-19 infection and response.
A competition will launch shortly to identify a chair for the new taskforce, with further details on the leadership structure to be announced in ‘due course’.
“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,” he added.