US – The US government is taking another leap into the fight against COVID-19 through an investment worth US$3.2 billion to help develop antiviral therapy pills.

This is part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) government strategy to develop the next generation of COVID-19 treatments.

ARP was developed to provide emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses during the pandemic.

This plan will provide 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 through NIAID and BARDA.

Even as hundreds of millions of Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and cases of hospitalizations and death rates falling, the Biden Administration remains committed to identifying an oral therapy against the virus.

Highly effective oral antiviral medicines that can be taken at home early in the course of infection, similar to antiviral treatment for influenza, would save lives both here and abroad and prevent overwhelming surges in hospitalizations.

“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 Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the President and NIAID Director.

Latest CDC figures shows that US has recorded a total of 33.5 million cases and a death toll of 601,000 with previous week recording 2.2 million cases of hospitalization.

To bolster the fight against COVID-19, the USFDA approved Remdesivir, an antiviral drug for COVID-19, for use in the treat of hospitalized patients above 12 years.

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

The administration will procure more than 1.5 million regimens from Merck, a leading pharmaceutical company, for investigational antiviral treatment post receiving emergency use authorization.

A further evaluation by the NIH will 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 laboratories to de-risk early stage development with sponsors and guide candidates along development paths.

Having additional FDA-authorized antiviral medicines available within a year would be a major breakthrough in ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect the public and help governments curb the surging rate of hospitalization.