The prime minister said on Tuesday it would be modelled on the “success of our vaccination programme”.
Johnson said medicines could be available as early as the autumn, designed to stop the infection spreading and speed up recovery time.
“Our new antivirals taskforce will seek to develop innovative treatments you can take at home to stop Covid-19 in its tracks,” he said.
“These could provide another vital defence against any future increase in infections and save more lives.”
Antiviral drugs are a type of medication used specifically for treating viral infections, and act by killing or preventing the growth of viruses.
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The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the taskforce’s aim was to have at least two effective treatments this year, a tablet or a capsule, which people can take following a positive test or exposure to someone with the virus.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said medicines were a “vital weapon” in combating the disease.
“The UK is leading the world in finding and rolling out effective treatments for Covid-19, having identified dexamethasone, which has saved over a million lives worldwide, and tocilizumab,” he said.
“I am committed to boosting the UK’s position as a life science superpower and this new taskforce will help us beat Covid-19 and build back better.”
Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said tablets would be a “key tool”.
“They could help protect those not protected by or ineligible for vaccines. They could also be another layer of defence in the face of new variants of concern,” he said.
“The taskforce will help ensure the most promising antivirals are available for deployment as quickly as possible.”
A chair of the new taskforce has yet to be identified, but a recruitment process will start shortly, DHSC said.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.