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Therapeutics and contact tracing: Lords continue Science of COVID-19 inquiry

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will on Monday hold two back-to-back evidence sessions on therapeutics and the science of contact tracing.

Summaries from the committee's previous COVID-19 evidence sessions.
The committee will take evidence on the main types of therapeutics considered for treating COVID-19, how antiviral drugs work, which are effective and what treatments are available to boost the immune response. 
The session will then continue by asking how contract tracing should operate in order to be effective and looking more closely at what the UK is doing.
On the 6th July, the committee are set to look in more detail at the UK's contact tracing systems in a further evidence session, details of which will be announced next week.
The evidence sessions will be conducted on zoom and can be followed at Parliament TV from 3pm on Monday 29 June.
3pm, Therapeutics
Giving evidence will be:

  • Professor Peter Horby, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Global Health, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford
  • Dr Sir Mike Jacobs, Clinical Director of Infection, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Sheuli Porkess, Executive Director, Research, Medical and Innovation, Association of British Pharmaceuticals Industry (ABPI)

Questions will include:

  • What are the main types of therapeutics that could be considered for treatment of COVID-19 (for example antivirals, antibodies, cancer drugs)?
  • How do antiviral drugs work, and what viral mechanism(s) do they target?
  • What specific antivirals have been identified as being effective against COVID-19, and by what mechanism do they work?
  • What treatments are available that help boost the immune system's response to infection and on what immunological principles are such treatments based?
  • What are neutralising monoclonal antibodies, and how can they be used to treat COVID-19 infection? 
  • What types of treatments can be used to treat the damage caused by the disease?
  • What is the status of therapies for people who are experiencing milder illness?

4pm, The Science of Contact Tracing
Giving evidence will be:

  • Professor Noel McCarthy, Professor of Epidemiology, University of Warwick; and Honorary Consultant Epidemiologist, PHE
  • Prof Christophe Fraser, Senior Group Leader in Pathogen Dynamics, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford
  • Professor Allyson Pollock, Clinical Professor of Public Health, Newcastle University; and coDirector of the Newcastle University Centre of Excellence in Regulatory Science, Newcastle University

Questions will include:

  • What are the key principles behind contact tracing as part of a public health response to an outbreak?
  • How many, or what proportion of, contacts need to be identified for a test and trace strategy to be effective at reducing transmission? What is the maximum possible impact effective contact tracing could have on R?
  • What are the main barriers to identifying contacts?
  • What effect would it have on transmission if first-degree contacts isolated from when the suspected case first showed symptoms, rather than waiting for the test result?
  • Is it enough to contact only the known contacts of the infected person? 
  • How successful has the UK's contact tracing strategy been so far?
  • How important is the development of a contact tracing app for controlling the pandemic in the UK?
  • How does the UK's approach to test and trace compare with strategies in other countries?

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