LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced a new taskforce to find "promising new medicines" to treat coronavirus.
Under the government plans, Britons who test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to the virus could be sent antiviral tablets or capsules, to take at home as early as autumn this year, Xinhua news agency reported.
"The success of our vaccination program has demonstrated what the UK can achieve when we bring together our brightest minds," the prime minister said at a Downing Street press briefing.
"Our new Antivirals Taskforce will seek to develop innovative treatments you can take at home to stop COVID-19 in its tracks," he said.
"These could provide another vital defense against any future increase in infections and save more lives," he added.
The new taskforce is modeled on the Vaccines Taskforce which was responsible for securing Britain's supply of vaccines.
According to the British government's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, antiviral drugs "could help protect those not protected by or ineligible for vaccines. They could also be another layer of defense in the face of new variants of concern."
Meanwhile, Johnson said as Britain is continuing to make progress in the fight against coronavirus, "we cannot delude ourselves" that the virus has gone away.
He noted that the majority of scientific experts are of the view that there will be another wave at some stage this year and Britons must learn to live with the virus. However, he said there was nothing in scientific data to suggest Britain would have to deviate from the roadmap out of lockdown. In England, all shops reopened from April 12, along with hairdressers, beauty salons and other close-contact services. (IANS)