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Biden administration to invest $3 billion in new COVID-19 drugs

A public health doctor administers the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine to a local resident at the Long Beach Convention Center in California on March 8. The Biden administration said it will invest $3 billion to create the next generation of coronavirus drugs. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
A public health doctor administers the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine to a local resident at the Long Beach Convention Center in California on March 8. The Biden administration said it will invest $3 billion to create the next generation of coronavirus drugs. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

June 17 (UPI) -- The Biden administration said Thursday it will invest more than $3 billion in the development and manufacturing of antiviral medicines to create an evolving line of coronavirus treatments.

The new plan, called the Antiviral Program for Pandemics, will respond to the call for antivirals to treat COVID-19 with treatments that prevent serious illness and deaths by the disease.

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The National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the Biomedical Advancement Research and Development Authority will take part in the program. The Department of Health and Human Services is the umbrella organization over most of the programs.

"New antivirals that prevent serious COVID-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of the disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives," Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, said in a statement.

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Fauci, who is also director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the multidisciplinary collaborations among leading scientists in academia and industry will help inspire medical innovation and build on the past success in developing COVID-19 vaccines.

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"Even with very effective vaccines, some people may remain vulnerable to the virus, including people who are immunosuppressed or who are unvaccinated," said Dr. David Kessler, chief science officer for Biden's COVID-19 Response team. "An easily administered oral antiviral drug would be an important part of our therapeutic arsenal that would complement the great success of our vaccine efforts."

The plan calls for the acceleration and expansion of ongoing efforts to support clinical trials to test prioritized drug candidates for COVID-19 and to support the advanced development of promising therapies.

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A statement from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said a public-private partnership called ACTIV (Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutics and Vaccines) has helped prioritize 19 therapeutic agents for testing outpatients and inpatients COVID-19 clinical trials.

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