The results of major drug trials conducted next month could see the lockout lifted completely by mid-summer, according to leading doctors.
More than 120 drugs are being studied in the treatment of coronavirus.
These could provide a much quicker way out of the crisis than waiting for a vaccine, says an article published today.
The authors, from Chelsea and Westminster hospitals, said that if any of the drugs were even moderately effective, it would change the profile of the pandemic and the way politicians attack the virus.
Results of major drug trials next month may see lockout completely lifted by mid-summer, say leading doctors
Major UK trials of versions of remdesivir, the Ebola drug, tocilizumab and lopinavir-ritonavir, an anti-HIV drug, are all expected to produce definitive results in the coming weeks.
This comes as the Chelsea and Westminster team announced last night a study of 450 people on the favipiravir coronavirus and the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine.
The document – written by Dr Michael Pelly, HIV specialist professor Anton Pozniak and international financial consultant Guy de Selliers – outlines a three-phase plan for a return to normalcy.
This would remove the lockout much faster than government advisers envision.
The authors suggest that with declining hospital admissions, the relaxation of restrictions could begin in two weeks.
More rules could be lifted following the drug test results in early June, with a complete end to the lockdown by mid-summer.
In an article for the think tank Radix, the authors wrote, “Treatments could be identified much sooner than a vaccine and perhaps as early as weeks.
“This would have very important implications for the government’s approach and the government must start preparing now for the advent of such treatments to fully benefit. “
They recognize that no single treatment will be a “quick fix”.
More than 120 drugs are being studied in the treatment of coronavirus. Protein scientist Simon Varzandeh is working on the development of a coronavirus vaccine at Oxford Science Park in Oxford
But they believe that any drug that can fight infection, even with modest success, would help get Britain back on track.
And Dr. Pelly pointed out that HIV had been “completely changed” as a disease thanks to the development of treatments, without scientists having ever developed a vaccine.
He said, “In the short term, antivirals can give us the option we need.
“We cannot live in lockdown forever. In the long term, we need a vaccine, we need drugs for early disease, we need drugs for late disease, we need the full range.
Britain leads the world crusade for treatment.
The government is funding the world’s largest trial – a 7,000-person study by the University of Oxford in which coronavirus patients are randomly given one of five drugs. He also pays for three other studies across the UK.
More than half of the drugs tested worldwide are already licensed and in mass production for other treatments and could therefore be deployed quickly.
Doctors at Chelsea and Westminster wrote: “Any treatment that reduces lethality could lead to a reassessment of the government’s strategy of focusing exclusively on suppressing the epidemic to save lives. It is too early to speculate on the results and to achieve victory laps. “
Meanwhile, scientists working for the U.S. military have designed a blood test that could identify carriers of the disease before they become infectious or show symptoms.
Latest news, views and expert advice on coronaviruses at mailplus.co.uk/coronavirus