UK Government Announces Deal to Secure Two New COVID-19 Antivirals

UK government has secured two new antiviral treatments for COVID-19, which may be rolled out in a national clinical study before the end of 2021.

The government of the United Kingdom has secured two new antiviral treatments for COVID-19, it was revealed in an Oct. 20, 2021 press release. The deals were made by the government’s Antivirals Taskforce and could be rolled out through a national clinical study before the end of 2021.

“I am delighted to confirm we may soon have a new defense in our arsenal with two new antiviral drugs that we have secured,” said Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary for the UK government, in the press release. “Our work is far from done though—and we’ll continue our tireless work to secure more innovative treatments so we can protect as many people as possible from the virus, its variants, and future diseases.”

Primarily, the antivirals—Molnupiravir (MSD) and PF-07321332/ritonavir (Pfizer)—will be used for the most vulnerable patients, including the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Both treatments will need to be evaluated by the UK’s regulatory body the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before they are authorized.

“This is a very important development in our mission to find antivirals for those exposed to COVID-19, supporting the renowned vaccination program and the [National Health Service] over the coming months,” added Eddie Gray, chair of the Antivirals Taskforce, in the press release. “Should they be approved by the medicines regulator, we could see these treatments rolled out to patients this winter, providing them with vital protection.”

In response to the government’s announcement, Richard Torbett, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry commented in a press statement, “Vaccines have already done so much to help break the link between infections and hospitalizations. Antivirals are another line of defense for the most clinically vulnerable and patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19. This is good news, and another example of the pharmaceutical industry and government working together to make sure we have as many effective tools as possible to tackle this pandemic.”

Sources: UK Gov, ABPI