An antiviral could be the answer to stopping coronavirus “in its tracks”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week. It’s not clear which drugs the Government will study. So far, the only antiviral undergoing UK clinical trials is the flu drug Favipiravir and results are expected in six months.
But Chief Trial Investigator Professor Kevin Blyth, of Glasgow University has said it would be a huge step forward if antiviral drugs work.
He continued: “You don’t have any hospital services being put under enormous pressure because patients never come to the hospital.
“Normal services can function and you don’t have to have lockdown or other draconian control measures.”
Professor Blyth has further explained the medicines may be able to reduce spread and the risk of outbreaks happening.
Also they would work by “killing” coronavirus in the body if taken quickly, within a few days of having a positive Covid test.
Favipiravir was developed in Japan in 2014.
The GETAFIX trial it will be a part of will measure whether it stops Covid patients from becoming more seriously ill using a scoring system from one to 10.
If it’s shown to work against the Covid virus (SARS-CoV-2) then millions of doses will be handed out on the NHS.
Volunteers in Glasgow are being urged to sign up as soon as they get a positive Covid test.
A separate trial, also testing the same drug, will run in London.
Dr Janet Scott, previous Chief Investigator at GETAFIX, told The Sun: “The drugs which are the fastest into use, are drugs which are already in use for other diseases.
“The only current candidate for an antiviral drug which is also oral is Favipriavir.
“This drug was developed as an anti- influenza drug in Japan, but has had some early success in trials in China speeding up time to a person clearing the virus from the system and reducing lung damage.”
NHS trials to repurpose existing drugs by proving they work against Covid have already taken place.
Scientists in Britain discovered the steroid Dexamethasone tackled symptoms and cut the risk of severely ill hospitalised patients dying.
The immunosuppressant Tocilizumab has also shown benefit.
Remdesivir, an antiviral drug, had a mild benefit in severe Covid cases.
Interferon beta, a protein which the body produces when it gets a viral infection, is at the centre of a large trial in the UK.
Favipiravir has shown promising results in clinical studies in China, Russia, and Japan.