The US Government has made a Big Bet on an Antiviral Pill to Fight COVID-19

We don’t have to vaccinate our way completely out of this pandemic. With epidemiologists around the world increasingly accepting the reality that SARS-CoV-2 and its variants are becoming endemic viruses — such as seasonal flu — the push is being made to develop antiviral drugs that can be taken at home. to prevent infections from leading to hospitalization and death. Today, the Announced the Department of Health and Human Services that the Biden administration has authorized $ 3.2 billion to accelerate the development of antivirals already in the R&D pipeline, with the hope that at least one will be ready to be released before the end of the year.
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“The remarkable and rapid development of vaccines and testing technology has demonstrated how agile scientific discovery can be,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in a statement. HHS. “We will exploit these same strengths while building a platform for the discovery and development of effective antivirals.”

The plan focuses on 19 drugs that are currently being investigated for their antiviral potential, with a goal of accelerating their development in Phase 2 clinical trials. Last week, the administration has already made a major bet on one of the 19, announcing that it will buy up to 1.7 million doses of an antiviral produced by Merck, pending authorization for emergency or emergency use. full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Of the $ 3.2 billion allocated, $ 1.2 billion will fund the creation of what HHS calls “collaborative drug discovery groups,” hoping that the push to create a COVID-19 treatment will also create a development infrastructure for other antivirals to treat other diseases.

New drugs could not only alleviate the rape left by hesitant vacancies that slow the push in the U.S. and around the world to boost band immunity, they can also serve as a backstop against advanced-case infections. of COVID-19 that also occur among vaccines. At the end of last month, for example, the CDC said more than 10,000 revolutionary vaccinations in 46 states at the end of April, at a time when just over 100 million vaccines had been administered in the United States In Massachusetts alone, there were currently a total of 4,000 revolutionary vaccines registered, reported in the Boston Herald today. It is still a relatively small number – representing only 0.1% of people vaccinated – but it makes new drugs attractive.

“New antivirals that prevent serious COVID-19 diseases and death, particularly oral drugs that could be taken at home before the course of the disease, will be powerful tools to fight the pandemic and save lives.” , said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in the HHS announcement.

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