New Covid treatments to be fast-tracked so they can be ready within months

Groundbreaking treatments for Covid-19 will soon be fast-tracked through clinical trials, meaning they could be available on the NHS within months rather than years.

The Government has provided millions of pounds worth of funding to a phase one clinical trial platform, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Phase one trials, usually arranged by researchers, are the earliest stage of human trials that ensure treatments are safe and show a signal of benefit in treating a disease.

The funding has been awarded to expand the Agile clinical trial platform and will allow for the progress of cutting-edge treatments for Covid-19 through all three clinical trial phases in the UK – a streamlined process that is hoped to protect the supply chain.

The Government currently funds phase two and three trials such as the Recovery trial, which brought dexamethasone and tocilizumab to the NHS.

The DHSC said this will attract ‘the brightest of researchers and manufacturers from around the world’ to trial their medicines in Britain.

The funding has been awarded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and co-funded though the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Today’s news will ensure all phases of clinical trials for new treatments are done in the UK, protecting our supply chain and securing the world’s best treatments for NHS patients at a much faster rate.

‘I am immensely proud of the work that’s been undertaken by the brilliant scientists behind these treatments and the thousands of UK patients who have taken part in the trials.

‘Together, we can continue to ensure the UK is one of the best countries in the world for trialling and deploying the most groundbreaking medical advancements for both Covid-19 and for dangerous diseases in the future.’

As the Government draws closer to reaching its target of vaccinating the 15 million most vulnerable by Monday, he said he hoped a combination of jabs and new treatments will mean Covid-19 could be a ‘treatable disease’ by the end of the year.

He told The Daily Telegraph: ‘If Covid-19 ends up like flu, so we live our normal lives and we mitigate through vaccines and treatments, then we can get on with everything again.’

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