WASHINGTON — The United States is devoting more than $3 billion to advance the development of antiviral pills for COVID-19, according to an official briefed on the matter.
The pills would be used to minimize symptoms after infection.
They are in development and could begin arriving by year’s end, pending the completion of clinical trials.
During a briefing on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said the White House has a "great deal of optimism" that the new program would produce positive results like similar programs the government launched to fight HIV and Hepatitis C.
He added that the program — which will be funded through the COVID-19 stimulus package signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this year — will include funding for further funding of research for existing treatments as well as funding for the discovery of new treatments.
"Vaccines clearly remain the centerpiece of the arsenal against COVID-19, however...antivirals add a line of defense against variants of concern," Fauci said.
News of the administration’s plans for the pill was first reported Thursday by The New York Times.