Biden Administration to spend $3.2 billion on antiviral pill to treat COVID, future pandemics

The program will focus on antiviral drugs to help treat COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses.
Pharmaceutical pills and capsules.

The Biden administration will spend $3.2 billion to develop antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 and other viruses that could cause future pandemics.

The new program, announced Thursday, is called the Antiviral Program for Pandemics and is intended to speed up the clinical trials of promising drugs and develop the next generation of treatment for COVID-19 and other potentially dangerous viruses, according to CNBC News.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser and head of the National Institutes of Health, said the plan would "evaluate, prioritize and advance" potential drugs to clinical trials. If they pass trials, some of those pills could be ready for use by the end of the year.

Fauci said the vaccine is still the most important tool in defeating COVID but added that "antivirals can and are an important complement to existing vaccines, especially for people with certain conditions that might put them at a greater risk."

The plan allocates more than $300 million for research, nearly $1 billion for clinical trials, nearly $700 million for development and manufacturing, and an additional up to $1.2 billion to support the creation of a drug discovery group that will target other coronaviruses or any other virus that could cause a pandemic.

NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins said after the announcement the "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."