The United States is devoting $3.2 billion to advance development of antiviral pills for COVID-19, officials said Thursday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, announced the investment during a White House briefing as part of a new "antiviral program for pandemics" to develop drugs to address symptoms caused by potentially dangerous viruses like the coronavirus.
The pills, which would be used to minimize symptoms after infection, are in development and could begin arriving by year’s end, pending the completion of clinical trials.
Fauci said the new program would invest in "accelerating things that are already in progress" for COVID-19, but also work to innovate new therapies for other viruses.
"There are few treatments that exist for many of the viruses that have pandemic potential," said Fauci.
But he added, "Vaccines clearly remain the centerpiece of our arsenal."
News of the administration's plans for the pill was first reported Thursday by The New York Times. The official who confirmed the report spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of an announcement.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.