President Joe Biden’s administration announced the United States is investing $3.2 billion to advance the development of antiviral drugs to treat viruses, including COVID-19.
On Thursday, June 17, Biden announced the Antiviral Program for Pandemics, “a government-wide effort to speed up clinical trials of promising candidate drugs and develop next-generation treatments for Covid and other viruses that may cause future pandemics,” according to infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
As part of the plan, the National Institutes of Health will “evaluate, prioritize, and advance” antiviral drug candidates, conduct Phase 2 clinical trials, and “develop candidates,” according to another announcement from the government.
“New antivirals that prevent serious COVID-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives,” Fauci added.
“Through multidisciplinary collaborations among leading scientists in academia and industry, this investment from the American Rescue Plan to create the Antiviral Program for Pandemics will help inspire medical innovation and build on the extraordinary success we have seen in developing the COVID-19 vaccines.”
The administration plans to provide more than $300 million for research and laboratory support, nearly $1 billion for preclinical and clinical evaluation, and nearly $700 million for development and manufacturing by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency.
“With the President’s leadership, this administration has vaccinated millions of people. Even with very effective vaccines, some people may remain vulnerable to the virus, including people who are immunosuppressed or who are unvaccinated,” Dr. David Kessler the Chief Science Officer for the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 Response Team said in a statement.
“An easily administered oral antiviral drug would be an important part of our therapeutic arsenal that would complement the great success of our vaccine efforts,” he added. “Our administration is going to harness the power of American ingenuity to spur the creation and development of these drugs that can save lives both here in the United States and around the world.”
Officials noted that additionally, the plan allocates up to $1.2 billion to support the creation of collaborative drug discovery groups - Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern - that will “harness the creativity of the biomedical research community and drive innovative antiviral drug discovery and development.”
The centers will create platforms that will target COVID-19, and then could be expanded to other viruses with pandemic potential in an effort to better prepare the nation for future virus threats.
“The remarkable and rapid development of vaccines and testing technology has shown how agile scientific discovery can be when we combine the resources of public agencies, private entities, and our nation’s most brilliant and creative minds,” National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins said.
“We will leverage these same strengths as we construct a platform for the discovery and development of effective antivirals that will help us defeat COVID-19 and better prepare us for potential future viral pathogens.”
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