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The UK government's decision to stop funding a globally recognized Covid initiative has provoked disappointment.
Science

The UK government’s decision to stop funding a globally recognized Covid initiative has provoked disappointment.

Britain received global recognition from scientific organizations for their effective use of affordable medication to treat Covid-19 patients, ultimately saving numerous lives during the pandemic.

However, the subsidy from the government towards the UK Recovery initiative is set to terminate. In a matter of weeks, the financial assistance from the government will cease. The only means for the program to persist is through contributions from a consortium of charitable donors in the United States.

The move has dismayed senior scientists who say it is another worrying example of the UK’s life sciences sector being short-changed by government. “We knew Recovery had huge potential and that was realised in a very short period during Covid. But now that dream is being unrealised,” said Prof Peter Horby, one of the co-founders of Recovery.

According to Horby, the significance of Recovery has not only been disregarded since the end of the pandemic. Despite Britain’s excellence in clinical trials, vaccine progress, and genomics research, much of this progress has been disregarded or underfunded. However, it is crucial that we remain cognizant of the risks posed by future pandemics.

Recovery – the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy – is a drug-testing programme that, at the height of the pandemic, involved thousands of doctors and nurses working with tens of thousands of Covid-19 patients in hospitals across Britain. Trials were carried out in intensive care units and wards crammed with seriously ill patients.

“The distinction between assumed efficacy, actual efficacy, and lack of efficacy is crucial in everyday clinical practice,” stated Professor Martin Landray, one of the co-founders of Recovery. “Recovery successfully achieved this.”

The program successfully identified four effective medicines and concluded that eight heavily promoted drugs were not effective. One example is the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which was highly endorsed by Donald Trump as a treatment for Covid-19, but was found to have no benefit for patients. On the other hand, dexamethasone, a low-cost treatment for inflammation and arthritis, was found to reduce deaths by a third for patients on ventilators in intensive care units. No other country was able to achieve similar results.

“Countries such as Canada and the United States have expressed their envy towards Britain’s successful implementation of the Recovery program. As a result, they are planning to invest significant amounts of money to establish similar initiatives. This comes as we as a collective seem to be losing interest in the program. In my opinion, this is regrettable,” stated Landray.

The UK’s recovery is sustained by Flu Lab, a charitable organization from America that is focused on fighting potential flu outbreaks. The program will now also include researching new treatments for both flu and Covid through a new agreement.

The recent choice made by the UK government to withdraw their support for Recovery is concerning, as it highlights the country’s failure to keep up with other nations in carrying out clinical trials. These trials involve testing new medications on volunteers to ensure their safety and efficacy, as well as monitoring any potential adverse effects. A Swiss company, Novartis, recently cancelled a major trial for a cholesterol drug in Britain.

According to Horby, our placement on the league table for conducting trials has decreased to below that of Italy, Poland, France, and numerous other countries. The condition of the NHS contributes to this issue, which is concerning.

“I am supportive of the government’s goal for the UK to achieve status as a scientific leader. However, current developments suggest that we are moving in the opposite direction.”

Landray emphasized the significance of the UK being ready for potential future pandemics. He cautioned against disbanding the army during times of peace as preparation for future battles is necessary.

Source: theguardian.com