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Billions for Antivirals

The US is investing billions of dollars into antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The $3.2 billion in funding for the new Antiviral Program for Pandemics comes from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and could expedite ongoing studies, NBC News adds. The hope, the Journal says, is to develop a Tamiflu-like pill people can take at any initial signs of COVID-19.

"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," Anthony Fauci, chief White House medical advisor and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says according to the Journal, adding that vaccines "remain the centerpiece of our arsenal" fighting the pandemic.

In particular, the program includes $300 million for lab and research support, nearly $1 billion for preclinical and clinical evaluation, about $700 million for development and manufacturing, and $1.2 billion to form collaborative drug discovery groups called Antiviral Drug Discovery Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern to spur antiviral drug discovery and development.

The Scan

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.

Effectiveness May Decline, Data From Israel Suggests

The New York Times reports that new Israeli data suggests a decline in Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant infection, though protection against severe disease remains high.

To See Future Risk

Slate looks into the use of polygenic risk scores in embryo screening.

PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS this week: genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, archived bone marrow sequencing, and more.