The United States is allocating $3.2 billion for the development of antiviral medicines to treat COVID-19 and other high-risk viruses that could become another pandemic similar to the current one. Health experts have been calling out for a convenient drug that people could take when symptoms first appear. The initiative will dedicate in “accelerating things that are already in progress” for COVID-19 and formulating treatments for other dangerous viruses, said the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci at a White House briefing last June 17. “There are few treatments that exist for many of the viruses that have pandemic potential,” Fauci said, pointing out Ebola, dengue, West Nile, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The said funding will aim to speed up the research, trials, development, and manufacturing of the medicines. According to the US government, 1.7 million doses of an experimental antiviral medicine from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics will be purchased if it will show good results. Initial research suggests that the antiviral drug, molnupiravir, may decrease the risk of hospitalization if used right after infection by ceasing the coronavirus from rapidly reproducing. On the other hand, the drug did not help patients who were already hospitalized with severe condition.

Many other pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Roche, and AstraZeneca are also undergoing a trial on antiviral medicines. The currently available medicines have mostly been unveiled to help on the prevention from hospitalization and shortening of recovery time by several days. The US has also recently authorized remdesivir, an antiviral drug specifically for COVID-19, which has to be given only at hospitals or medical clinics.