Home » Politics » COVID-19 pill to take at home could be rolled out in Autumn
COVID-19 pill to take at home could be rolled out in Autumn
April 21, 2021
Boris Johnson warns UK of coronavirus 'third wave'
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But the home treatments will keep us on the “path to freedom” and stop the virus in its tracks, he said. Mr Johnson has launched an antiviral taskforce to find two new drugs that could be used as early as autumn to treat Covid in our homes. He said the vaccination programme is making a “big difference” by helping to reduce suffering and save lives. But he warned it is too early to assess the “exact strength of our defences” and warned we “cannot delude ourselves” that the virus has gone away.
The Prime Minister insisted the roadmap out of lockdown is still on track but said most scientists believe there will be another wave this year.
He said: “So we must, as far as possible, learn to live with this disease, as we live with other diseases.”
Mr Johnson said booster shots will be carried out in the autumn and mass testing will continue. But antiviral drugs could form the third line of defence.
The taskforce will search for the most promising new medicines and support their development through clinical trials.
Mr Johnson wants two drugs to be available as early as the autumn.
He said: “This means, for example, that if you test positive there might be a tablet you could take at home to stop the virus in its tracks and significantly reduce the chance of infection turning into more severe disease.
“Or if you’re living with someone who has tested positive, there might be a pill you could take for a few days to stop you getting the disease yourself.
“And by focusing on these antivirals we hope to lengthen the UK’s lead in life sciences and to give ever greater confidence to the people of this country that we can continue on our path towards freedom.”
Mr Johnson said the success of the UK’s vaccination programme has shown what the country can achieve “when we bring together our brightest minds”.
He said antivirals could provide “another vital defence” against any future increase in infections and save more lives.
The Government will also look for ways to produce the drugs within the UK to prevent a repeat of the ugly rows that broke out when Brussels threatened to block Britain’s supplies.
It is hoped that antivirals could help to reduce infections and limit the impact of any new variants.
They may also help to protect people who cannot take vaccines or those who are not fully protected after having the jab.
Writing in the Daily Express today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the Government has drawn on a diverse range of talent during the crisis.
He said: “We’re building on everything we’ve learned and finding even more ways to keep us safe – and we’ve put our brightest and best on the case.”
Scientists from the University of Oxford last year discovered that dexamethasone, an inexpensive steroid, could reduce Covid deaths for patients on ventilators or oxygen.
Around 22,000 lives have been saved by the drug in the UK, and one million worldwide.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, said: “The speed at which vaccines and therapeutics such as dexamethasone have been identified and deployed against Covid 19 has been critical to the pandemic response.
“Antivirals in tablet form are another key tool for the response. They could also be another layer of defence in the face of new variants of concern. The taskforce will help ensure promising antivirals are available for deployment as quickly as possible.”
Some 2,524 new lab-confirmed cases in the UK were recorded yesterday.
Another 33 people died within 28 days of testing positive as of yesterday, taking the UK total to 127,307.
Meanwhile, vaccine take-up among ethnic minorities has improved after a campaign to reassure groups who were hesitant about having the jab. Dr Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England, said: “Since we set out our plan in February, uptake from all ethnic minority backgrounds has tripled, across all ethnicities.”
She said the progress was a “direct result” of action by NHS teams, work by community leaders and high-profile backing from stars such as comedian Lenny Henry.