July 26, 2021

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The United States will invest $ 3.2 billion to develop antiviral pills against COVID-19

Experimental therapy developed by Molnupravir, Merck and Ridgeback Biotechnics. (Via Merck, Reuters)

The United States will invest $ 3.2 billion to develop antiviral pills against COVID-19, Was announced Thursday by the North American Department of Health and Human Services.

Can be treated It can avoid hospitalization and save many lives in the years to come, Despite the development and use of vaccines, the corona virus is still a threat.

“I woke up, I was not feeling well, the sense of smell and taste was gone, my throat was sore. I call my doctor and say, ‘I have goiter, I need a medicine.’

Other viruses such as the flu, HIV and hepatitis C can be treated with a simple pill. However, in the case of the corona virus, after more than a year of investigation, There is no medicine to fight the disease. The Operación Warp Speed, The plan of the former president Donald Trump To expedite research on COVID-19, He spent more money on vaccine development than treatments, According to the American media The New York Times.

EFE / Fernando Pizera Jr. / File
EFE / Fernando Pizera Jr. / File

The new arrival of money will speed up the clinical trials of many promising drugs. If all goes well, some of those pills may be available later this year. The antiviral program for infections will support the research of completely new drugs not only for the corona virus but also for viruses that can cause future infections.

Anthony FossieHe is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the main promoters of the program. Patients with corona virus may take their antiviral pills at a pharmacy as soon as they know they are PCR positive or when they begin to develop symptoms similar to Govit-19..

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“I wake up in the morning, I don’t feel well, the sense of smell and taste disappears, my throat hurts. I call my doctor and say, ‘I have goiter, I need a medicine.’, Fassi elaborated in an interview quoted by the New York Times to explain the process of obtaining antiviral.

Fucci’s support for antiviral pill research comes from his own experience He was battling AIDS three decades ago. In the 1990s, his company conducted research that led to the first HIV antiviral pills, which are “protease inhibitors” that block an essential protein in the virus and can keep it in the Gulf for a lifetime.

Anthony Fucci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  Stephanie Reynolds / Pool via REUTERS
Anthony Fucci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Stephanie Reynolds / Pool via REUTERS

In the early 2000s, researchers discovered that antiviral hepatitis C, called sophosphorus, was almost 100% curable. Tamiflu, an over-the-counter fever pill, reduces the recovery time from an infection and reduces the chance of a person dying in hospital from the flu.

With corona virus infection, Researchers began testing existing antiviral drugs on those hospitalized with the corona virus. But many of those tests showed no benefit from antivirals. Backwards, the decision to work in hospitals was a mistake. Scientists now know that The best time to try to fight the corona virus is in the first days of illnessWhen the virus copies quickly and the immune system does not yet present a defense.

So far, only one antiviral has shown a clear benefit for those hospitalized: remdesivir. The drug seems Shorten the course of the disease when given intravenously. Last October, he became The first and only antiviral drug to be licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19 disease. However, this is not recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

File photo: A patient with COVID-19 is being treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the clinic for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) "Dormstad Clinic" May 20, 2021 in Dormstadt, Germany.  REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach
File photo: A patient with COVID-19 is being treated in the intensive care unit (COVID-19) for coronavirus disease on May 20, 2021 at the “Clinicum Dormstad” clinic in Dormstad, Germany. REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach

Last year, government funding for corona virus treatments centered on some candidates Monoclonal antibodies and remedivir. Many antiviral studies are small and funded. But from January 2021, Joe Biden’s administration has begun designing a new program dedicated to antivirals, According to The New York Times.

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Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it was buying $ 1.7 million worth of Molnupravir from drug maker Merck for $ 1.2 billion.Until the current test is cleared by the FDA. According to David Kessler, Chief Scientific Officer of the COVID-19 Response Team of the Biden Administration, it is possible The government is seeking similar contracts for two antivirals that are well advanced in clinical trials, Promises the New York media.

(Brendan McDermott / Reuters)
(Brendan McDermott / Reuters)

One of the drugs the government is considering AT-527, Developed by Atea Pharmaceuticals. The composition has already been shown Early studies suggest that it may be safe and effective in treating hepatitis C and may also work against COVID-19. Roche is partnering with Etia to test it among the public, and companies are currently conducting an advanced phase clinical trial.

The other drug under evaluation was developed by Pfizer scientists, which is an adaptation The molecule was formulated as an anti-SARS drug in the early 2000s. Scientists have decided to change its structure to act against the new corona virus proteins.

The drug is designed to be taken intravenously, but Pfizer changed its structure and made it work as a tablet. When the rats received the drug orally, it was reached Adequate amount in the body to prevent corona virus. Pfizer began a clinical trial in March and examined its safety in the population, and expects to go for further testing in July.

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