Fauci: US to spend $3.2B for antiviral pills for COVID-19

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force., Photo Date: 4/16/2020 | Credit: Andrea Hanks / The White House | Image Source | Image Source

The United States is devoting more than $3 billion to advance development of antiviral pills for COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses that could turn into pandemics.

Posted: Jun 17, 2021 12:52 PM
Updated: Jun 18, 2021 12:12 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is devoting $3.2 billion to advance development of antiviral pills for COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses that could turn into pandemics.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, announced the investment Thursday at a White House briefing as part of a new “antiviral program for pandemics” to develop drugs to address symptoms caused by potentially dangerous viruses like the coronavirus.

The pills for COVID-19, which would be used to minimize symptoms after infection, are in development and could begin arriving by year’s end, pending the completion of clinical trials. The funding will speed those clinical trials and provide additional support to private sector research, development and manufacturing.

Fauci said the new program would invest in “accelerating things that are already in progress” for COVID-19 but also would work to innovate new therapies for other viruses.

“There are few treatments that exist for many of the viruses that have pandemic potential," he said.

But he added, “vaccines clearly remain the centerpiece of our arsenal.”

The U.S. has approved one antiviral drug, remdesivir, against COVID-19 and allowed emergency use of three antibody combinations that help the immune system fight the virus. But all the drugs have to be infused at hospitals or medical clinics, and demand has been low due to these logistical hurdles.

The U.S. government has been trying to raise awareness of the treatments, connecting people who test positive for COVID-19 with information about nearby providers.

Health experts, including Fauci, have increasingly called for simpler pill-based drugs that patients could take themselves. Some drugmakers are testing such medications, but initial results aren’t expected for several more months.

The currently available drugs have mostly been shown to help patients avoid hospitalization or shorten their recovery time by several days.

Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. poured more than $19 billion into rapidly developing multiple vaccines. But less than half that amount went toward developing new treatments. That shortfall has become increasingly concerning as the vaccination campaign slows and experts emphasize the need to manage the disease in millions of Americans who may never get inoculated.

The biggest need is for a convenient pill that can help keep patients with early symptoms of COVID-19 from developing severe disease and needing hospitalization.

Several companies, including Pfizer, Roche and AstraZeneca, are testing antivirals in pill form.

Until this week, the only medicines shown to boost survival were steroids given to patients sick enough to need extra oxygen and intensive care. But on Wednesday, U.K. researchers reported that one of the antibody combinations successfully reduced deaths in a large study of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

News of the Biden administration's plans for the antiviral pills was first reported by The New York Times.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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