Biden administration to accelerate COVID-19 medication research
The Department of Health and Human Services said it would spend more than $3 billion from the American Rescue Plan to research a coronavirus pill
The Biden administration is investing in research it hopes will finally end the current coronavirus pandemic and dampen the severity of the next deadly, viral outbreak.
The more than $3 billion investment was announced Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services, which said the money will “accelerate the discovery, development and manufacturing of antiviral medicines” and is part of the White House’s plan to create “the next generation of COVID-19 treatments.”
White House officials hope the funding will combat pandemics
The Washington Post reported that the multiyear, $3.2 billion funding will be used to research and develop new medications, while also testing existing drugs for their effectiveness.
- White House health officials Dr. Anthony Fauci and David Kessler began working on the idea in 2020 as a way to mitigate the devastating effects of any future pandemics, but later realized the drugs may used to combat coronavirus variants, according to the Post.
- “The focus was to reinvigorate the nation’s antiviral program over the next three to five years. What’s become more clear, as the pandemic has come into focus, is we have to do it this fall,” said Kessler, a White House chief medical adviser, The Washington Post reported. “We need this set of tools to close out this pandemic.”
In the HHS press release, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Fauci said, “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.”
- “There are few treatments that exist for many of the viruses that have pandemic potential,” Fauci said in a White House briefing on Thursday about the funding, The Associated Press reported.
- Fauci reiterated that “vaccines clearly remain the centerpiece of our arsenal,” according to the AP.
Find a medication to use early in the course of the virus
According to The New York Times, if drug trials are successful, a coronavirus medication could be available as early as the end of 2021.
- “A number of other viruses, including influenza, H.I.V. and hepatitis C, can be treated with a simple pill. But despite more than a year of research, no such pill exists to treat someone with a coronavirus infection before it wreaks havoc,” the Times reported.
- After unsuccessful attempts to use antivirals to treat hospital-bound patients early in the pandemic, scientists now believe that a yet-developed COVID-19 medication could be used to mitigate the effects of the virus if used at the onset of symptoms, reported the Times.