The UK government is planning to make COVID-19 treatment tablets available to the public by autumn.
The new Antivirals Taskforce will identify formulations to be taken at home, so that patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 can stop the infection from spreading and speed up recovery time.
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The antivirals could be used alone or in combination with one another in order to increase effectiveness and reduce the risk of further mutations.
There is no indication yet on which drugs could be used for this project.
“The Antivirals Taskforce is another example of how we are using our scientific strengths to shift the odds in our favour”.@MattHancock explains how the Antivirals Taskforce will help us to find and deploy the best possible antiviral medicines for treating #Covid19
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— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) April 20, 2021
However, the Department of Health and Social Care noted that research has shown the effectiveness of glucocorticoid dexamethasone, which is believed to have prevented death for 22,000 patients in the UK and an estimated million worldwide.
Recent trials also demonstrated the benefits of arthritis treatment tocilizumab and human monoclonal antibody sarilumab, as well as the combination of tocilizumab and dexamethasone.
“Antivirals in tablet form are another key tool for the response. They could help protect those not protected by or ineligible for vaccines. They could also be another layer of defence in the face of new variants of concern,” said Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser.