U.S. investing $3 billion for development of COVID-19 antiviral medications

June 18, 2021

The Biden Administration is investing more than $3 billion to accelerate the discovery, development, and manufacturing of antiviral medicines to treat COVID-19 infections early in the course of the disease.

“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,” said Anthony Fauci, MD, Chief Medical Adviser to the President and Director of. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Called the Antiviral Program for Pandemics, the plan also will build sustainable platforms for scientific discovery and development of antivirals for other viruses with pandemic potential.

Working through a public-private partnership called ACTIV (Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutics and Vaccines), 19 therapeutic agents have been prioritized for testing in rigorous clinical trials for outpatients and inpatients with COVID-19.

As part of the plan, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will evaluate, prioritize, and advance antiviral candidates to Phase 2 clinical trials, using current and expanded contract resources and the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The plan provides more than $300 million for research and lab support, nearly $1 billion for preclinical and clinical evaluation, and nearly $700 million for development and manufacturing.

The plan also allocates up to $1.2 billion to support the creation of collaborative drug discovery groups called 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. These centers will create platforms that will initially target coronaviruses, and then could be expanded to other viruses with pandemic potential.

“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,” said Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, NIH Director. “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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