WASHINGTON—The Biden administration will invest more than $3 billion on developing and manufacturing antiviral pills to treat coronavirus, the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.
“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 President Biden and the nation’s top infectious-disease expert.
The $3.2 billion investment will be allocated from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Mr. Biden signed into law in March. In a briefing Thursday, Dr. Fauci said the funding could accelerate clinical trials “already in progress” for some antiviral pills and potentially make some of them available by year’s end. The oral antiviral medicines would be designed to be taken at home and to treat symptoms early in the course of infection.
Dr. Fauci said coronavirus vaccines “remain the centerpiece of our arsenal” in fighting the pandemic, but noted antiviral drugs would serve as an important complement in preventing severe illness and hospitalization.
Researchers are testing antivirals in pill form that could become a kind of Tamiflu for Covid-19.