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The development of antiviral drugs against SARS-CoV-2

Last month the government announced the launch of a COVID-19 Antivirals Taskforce to search for the most promising novel antiviral medicines that can be taken at home after a positive COVID-19 test result or prophylactically after exposure.

We gathered five experts on the development of antivirals (including several PIs on clinical trials investigating some of the potential candidates) to discuss the current situation in the UK, the process of antiviral drug development and the challenges of this project.

The panel are not associated with the COVID-19 Antivirals Taskforce and were not be able to answer questions about it directly, but they were able to address questions such as:

  • How do antivirals work?
  • What are the challenges of developing antiviral drugs in a tight timeframe?
  • What is the role of UK CTAP?
  • What are the possible antiviral candidates for use against SARS-CoV-2?
  • What trials are looking at antivirals and when might they have results?
  • What can we learn from the pandemic response which might benefit the future of drug development?


Speakers included:

Prof Ian Hall, Professor of Molecular Medicine, University of Nottingham & Chair of the UK COVID-19 Therapeutics Advisory Panel (UK-CTAP) antiviral sub-panel

Dr Ruth McKernan, Chair at BioIndustry Association

Prof Saye Khoo, Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Liverpool & Chief Investigator for the AGILE Coronavirus Drug Testing Initiative

Dr Daria Hazuda, Vice President – Research, Chief Scientific Officer, MSD

Prof Philip Bath, Professor of Stroke Medicine, University of Nottingham & lead researcher for PROTECT-CH

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