PM launches taskforce to ‘supercharge’ UK fight against new strains of Covid


Boris Johnson has today launched a new taskforce to “supercharge” the UK’s fight against new strains of Covid-19.

The antivirus taskforce could identify a pill you can take to prevent yourself developing Coronavirus as soon as this year, the PM said

It will aim to identify at least two 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.

Launching the group, the Prime Minister said: “The success of our vaccination programme has demonstrated what the UK can achieve when we bring together our brightest minds.

“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.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “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.




“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.

“I am committed to boosting the UK’s position as a life science superpower and this new taskforce will help us beat COVID-19 and build back better.”

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It’s hoped the new body will be a “vital tool” in combating any future spike in infections – particularly in flu season later this year.

The government will “shortly” launch a competition to choose a chair for the Taskforce.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Officer 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 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.

“The Taskforce will help ensure the most promising antivirals are available for deployment as quickly as possible.”





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