In this paper doctors and co-authors participating in the planning of an important Covid-19 clinical trial have set out seven steps which they believe the Government should be taking now, to be ready to take advantage of effective treatments, should they be available by early summer.
If any of the treatments – which focus on the early stages of the disease and protecting frontline workers – prove successful, the UK lockdown could conceivably be officially over in the summer. The report sets out a three-phase process to end the lockdown, which its authors believe could start imminently.
While the media focus has been on developing a vaccine – which the paper states probably remains at least a year away – the authors argue that it is possible, although by no means certain, that drug treatments might soon be available to give doctors additional tools to manage the epidemic and enable the government to restart the economy.
It argues that the lockdown itself has significant health costs and could be more rapidly relaxed if and as soon as the efficacy of treatments are established. For this to happen, however, the government must now prepare for that possibility. Amongst the actions the paper calls for in its seven-point preparedness plan are:
- Reviewing the epidemiological models to understand the impact of treatments becoming available
- Being ready to fast track regulatory approvals for any treatment for which clinical trial outcomes are positive
- Starting now to prepare protocols and logistics for their dispensing
- Establishing international collaboration and ensuring that there is sufficient manufacturing capacity
“Proven treatments, administered early, combined with large scale testing, would enable the UK to move from “suppression through lockdown” to “test, isolate and treat”. Results from this and other studies could be available in as little as 6-8 weeks. In case these studies are positive, the government must act now, so that, as new information develops, the epidemic strategy can be quickly adjusted.”Guy de Selliers, co-author and chairman of the Steering Committee for one of the clinical trials
“Globally, nobody was properly prepared for this pandemic, even when it was clear that Coronavirus was likely to spread fast from China through the rest of the world. No government can afford to be left behind at the next stage of the pandemic so what is needed now are detailed treatment preparedness plans factoring in all eventualities.”Dr Michael Pelly, co-author
“While there will be an opportunity in the future to review the decisions that brought us to this point, given what we now know, it would be unwise not to get ready now for what happens next, so we can release the UK from lockdown at the earliest safe moment. Radix hopes this paper will contribute to the debate and ensure this happens.”Ben Rich, CEO RADIX