COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the UK has been very successful. However, how long immunity from SARS-Cov-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – will last with vaccines is unknown. It is also unknown if new vaccines will need to be generated every year because of mutations in the virus, which commonly happens with flu. One other potential way that COVID-19 could be prevented would be to use medicines that act as anti-viral agents – but there are currently no such treatments available.
Our project aims to begin to address this by examining medicines that are already used in clinical practice but for different diseases. Based on knowledge of how these medicines work, we have found that some medicines may be useful as anti-viral medicines. If this is true, they could be used to help to prevent COVID-19 alongside vaccines. This project will use data to test if people taking some medicines might also be protected from infection with SARS-Cov-2. These analyses will be supplemented by laboratory analyses where we will test these medicines to see if they can neutralise the effect of SARS-CoV-2.
If these medicines are shown to have a protective signal in these analyses, this could lead to randomised controlled trials to test if they do prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2. If they work in clinical trials, this could mean the medicines could be used alongside vaccines for the prevention of COVID-19 infection and improve the population’s health.