President Biden plans to invest $3.2 billion into Antiviral Program of Pandemics from American Rescue Plan as a part of anti-viral development strategy to build cutting edge next generation of treatments for COVID-19, so the country can be better prepared to fight future potential virus threats. Termed as Antiviral Program of Pandemics (AAP), Dr. Anthony Fauci elaborated on potential future threats from family of viruses in a recent Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials. These antiviral treatments complement the vaccine program that remains the bazooka among all the options in the US.
Antiviral Program of Pandemics (AAP)
Antiviral Program of Pandemics (AAP) is a thought leadership program aimed at creating an ecosystem integrating key actors example academia, industry, policy makers to work decisively and collaboratively for a common good of addressing the heightened risks of viruses as the biggest universal disrupters, both today and tomorrow. The initiative facilitates creation of new antiviral drug centers to foster research for medication for SAR-Cov-2 and other prospective viruses of pandemic potential. The plan to identity additional candidates for program support apart from those antiviral medicines that are in the later stages of development is both futuristic and visionary laying down the first clear cut strategy for espousing better preparedness to face present and future pandemics.
AAP uses two prolonged approaches. First, invest in Research & Development for discovering new antiviral medicines. Second, accelerate clinical testing of promising antiviral medicines. Looking at the evidence from the pandemic, “repurposing of drugs” (a phrase used in the book Till We Mean) i.e. using available drugs for treating COVID-19 enforces the validity of option of accelerating clinical testing of various existing medicines at various stages of development in the AAP program like those from Pfizer, Merck.
Remdesivir, a drug developed to treat Ebola has had mixed success in treating patients suffering from the novel coronavirus. Americans approved Veklury (another name for Remdesivir) for treating SARS-Cov-2 patients based on specific parameters. Although the earlier reports of Remdesivir efficacy against COVID-19 were positive, the Solidarity test did not showcase any benefits from the drug. Subsequently, WHO dropped the medicine from its list of bulwarks against the pandemic.
Graph: CDC — Daily Trends in COVID-19 Cases in the United States Reported to CDC; 7-Day moving average as of 23 June, 2021.
Source: CDC *Historical cases are excluded from daily new cases and 7-day average calculations until they are incorporated into the dataset for the applicable date. Of 80,593 historical cases reported retroactively, 1,364 were reported in the current week and 1,165 were reported in the prior week.
As more variants of the novel coronavirus are increasingly becoming more lethal with higher levels of transmissibility, the development of antiviral pills enables a valid fight against the COVID-19 significantly for those with a weaker immune system. The policy initiative engulfs research of more potential viruses that are perceived as threats to the society, a critical enabler for social change and impact as risks from viruses as a weapon of mass destruction far outweigh risks from other known sources. The emphasis on discovering vaccines models the highly successful antiviral program focusing on discovering medication for HIV.
Graph: The middle Road Data Source: CDC
Antiviral Program for Pandemics, $500 billion is for research and laboratory support, $1 billion to support the creation of collaborative drug discovery groups called Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern, $1 billion for preclinical and clinical evaluation and $700 billion for development and manufacturing through NIH and BARDA.
Antiviral Program of Pandemics (AAP) lays down the foundation for other countries to follow suit for setting up research centers to negate the widespread transmissibility of variants of SAR-Cov-2. The United States is an excellent example of lead as it was the worst hit last year by the healthcare crisis despite having world-class research and development facilities matched by few advanced economies. As vaccination program continues to roll out in the country with 77.4% of 65 and population fully vaccinated, Americans will go through the inevitable, the painfully slow last mile vaccination process. To top the worries, the emergence of Delta variant as the major COVID-19 variant with footprints in already 77 countries globally gains in the US with national predicted value to be at 20.6% for the 2 weeks ending June 19, 2021, according to figures shared by CDC. The emergence of a dominant strain can be quick within a short time frame is evident from the change in the US between December 2020 and May 2021. At present, there are The B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma), B.1.427 (Epsilon), B.1.429 (Epsilon), and B.1.617.2 (Delta) variants of SARS-Cov-2 circulating in the United States are classified as variants of concern
Graph | The middle Road DAta Source CDC
# Africa & IMF
The longer the virus stays within our system, the higher the probability of it to mutate displaying more vulnerabilities within our societies developing immune escape system. As many countries face second and third wave of the pandemic, many countries remain unprotected with minimal heathcare systems, multiple entities including civic societies, multilateral banks, governments, activists are making a concerted effort to vaccinate the world at the earliest. One such initiative is from IMF is to provide $50 billion pan to vaccinate 60% of the world’s population by mid 2022. With Africa now facing the fastest growth rate in new COVID-19 infections, IMF projects this wave is likely to overtake previous peaks within a week, this plan along with G20 Debt Service Suspension plan to forgo debt as public debt in sub Saharan region climbs to 58% is a welcome relief.
One key insight emerging from the pandemic is crystal clear that we now have entered unchartered waters; risks from other emerging pandemics and measures to eliminated these risks shall be the focal point of our civilization for generations to come.