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US announces $3bn funding boost for antiviral COVID-19 treatments

Funding will go towards the discovery, development and manufacturing of antiviral medicines

The US government has announced that it will invest over $3bn for the development of ‘next-generation’ antiviral treatments for COVID-19.

The Biden Administration has said the funding will go toward the discovery, development and manufacturing of antiviral medicines as part of its ‘whole-of-government’ strategy to develop next-generation COVID-19 treatments.

The Antiviral Programme for Pandemics will be implemented by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As part of this plan, the NIH will evaluate, prioritise and advance antiviral treatment candidates to phase 2 clinical trials.

It will provide over $300m for research and lab support for potential treatments, as well as nearly $1bn for preclinical and clinical evaluation and nearly $700m for development and manufacturing through NIAID and BARDA.

In addition, the plan will also allocate up to $1.2bn to support the creation of collaborative drug discovery groups, known as the Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern.

These groups will utilise the ‘creativity’ of the biomedical research community in the US, while seeking to drive innovation in antiviral drug discovery and development.

Although the centres will aim to create platforms to initially target coronaviruses, they could eventually be expanded to address other viruses with pandemic potential.

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

“Through multidisciplinary collaborations among leading scientists in academia and industry, this investment from the American Rescue Plan to create the Antiviral Programme for Pandemics will help inspire medical innovation and build on the extraordinary success we have seen in developing the COVID-19 vaccines,” he added.

A number of companies have been evaluating antiviral treatments for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic last year.

This includes Gilead’s remdesivir, although the drug is not available for oral administration and was also not recommended in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 drug scheme last November.

Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, is also evaluating a ‘promising’ antiviral candidate – molnupiravir – in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Earlier this month, Merck agreed to supply the US government with approximately 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir (MK-4482).

The deal, worth $1.2bn, is contingent upon the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issuing an emergency use authorization (EUA) or approval for the treatment.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

18th June 2021

From: Research

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