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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.