A former boss at pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline has been hired to chair the government’s Antivirals Taskforce, created to find innovative medicines to treat patients with Covid-19 at home and stop the virus from spreading.
Eddie Gray’s 40 year career in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector includes a stint as president of GSK’s European pharmaceutical business, chief executive officer of Dynavax Technologies and as a board member of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. He is also a board member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
The Department of Health and Social Care said Gray had been involved in the field of antivirals throughout his career for a number of different diseases, including flu.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said Gray would be “spearheading” the government’s mission to find effective antiviral treatments for Covi-19 that would stop the virus from spreading and accelerate recovery time.
“He is bringing to the taskforce a wealth of industry expertise that will be crucial in ensuring we are identifying treatments effective at the earliest stages of exposure to this terrible virus,” Hancock said.
Gray said the development of a treatment strategy for individuals infected or exposed to the virus was an “important step” to support and protect the gains made by the successful vaccination programme.
The Antivirals Taskforce was set up in April with the aim of finding “at least two effective treatments” that the public could take at home if they tested positive for Covid-19 or were exposed to someone with the virus.
DHSC said it envisaged that the treatments would be in either tablet or capsule form, and that they were viewed as a “vital tool” to combat any future increase in infections and limit the impact of new variants, especially over the flu season later this year.
The department said the taskforce’s objective was for the treatments to be “ready for deployment by autumn 2021”.