Covid-19 pills will ‘allow UK to fully reopen economy’ as pandemic impacts weigh


Landmark Covid-19 pills will “allow the UK to fully reopen its economy”, according to analysts, as the impacts of the pandemic continue to weigh on the economy.

Companies including famed vaccine maker Pfizer, which has won regulatory approval for its Paxlovid pill, and Merck, have revolutionized the global immunisation process with antiviral pills.

“The acceleration of the roll out of new accessible medications against Covid-19 is expected to have a meaningful impact in terms of our ability to move beyond the pandemic and will help us to learn to live with the disease in the background,” Manx Financial Group CEO Douglas Grant told Business Matters.

“Easy-to-take medication will be a catalyst for the return to business as usual and help remove these damaging blockages, unleashing a sector that is desperate to grow.”

Grant added that it is “particularly good news for the UK’s SMEs” who have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, and its longer-lasting impacts of rising costs of goods, utilities and labour, as inflation teeters on a 30-year high.

“As SMEs race to resume normal operations post-pandemic, the availability of new treatments will hopefully help alleviate some of the challenges introduced by the pandemic – particularly employee shortage through reduced absenteeism as a result self-medication opportunities, as well as the related supply chain issues whereby, partly due to staff shortage, production lines in certain sectors have effectively come to a halt,” he said.

The government confirmed in late December it had bought 250,000 courses of Pfizer’s pill and 480,000 courses of Merck’s in October – which are looking like the most desirable options for countries which can afford them.

Michael Breen, Director of Infectious Diseases and Ophthalmology at GlobalData said: “New Covid-19 antivirals, with Pfizer’s Paxlovid seeming to be the standout based on currently available data, could be transformative if they are indeed as effective as clinical trials suggest.

“The overall benefit of a scenario where antivirals are highly effective to any economy, at any level, could be remarkable as it could allow for development of plans where contingency measures would no longer rely so heavily on measures which, while effective, were undoubtably extremely disruptive to local and global economies.”

A transition towards a pills-based public health programme will also be more cost effective in comparison to Covid-19 vaccines, explained Informa Pharma Intelligence’s director of thought leadership, Daniel Chancellor.

Chancellor expects the government to spend more than £1bn on its stockpile as a “necessary investment”.

“This will be extremely cost effective as antiviral pills are shown to keep patients out of hospital and will furthermore allow the UK to fully reopen its economy,” he said.

“Prices for the two available drugs have not been disclosed, but initial contracts have already been signed.”