Government plans at-home tablet to 'stop the virus in its tracks'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covi

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at-home Covid-19 treatments are being sought by a team of government experts to speed up recovery time for people who become infected with the virus - Credit: PA

Government scientists are seeking at home coronavirus treatments to help speed up people's recovery times, Boris Johnson has announced.

The prime minister told a Downing Street news conference that these drugs could give confidence to people that the country could “continue on our path towards freedom”.

“This means for example that if you test positive for the virus that 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 serious disease,” he said.

Mr Johnson said there was nothing in the current data to suggest that they could not proceed with the the next stage of unlocking under the road map as planned.

However he said that most scientists were “firmly of the view” that there would be a third wave of the disease at some point this year.

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.

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Officials hope to find and bring two treatments online this year.

This could mean that people with Covid-19, or those they have been in close contact with, could be offered antiviral medication – offered in tablet form – to stop the infection spreading and speed up recovery time.

The new Antivirals Taskforce, which is yet to appoint a chair, will search for the most promising potential antiviral medicines which can be taken at home.

The taskforce will support the development of the drugs through clinical trials and also look at manufacturing opportunities.

Antiviral drugs are a type of medication used specifically for treating viral infections, and act by killing or preventing the growth of viruses.

Matt Hancock, health secretary and West Suffolk MP, said: “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.”