The U.S. is assigning $3.2 billion to speed development of antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses that could turn into pandemics

KANSAS – According to the health officials, the new program will invest in accelerating things that are already in progress for COVID-19 but also would work to come up with treatments for other viruses.

Dr. Anthony Fauci announced the investment Thursday at a White House briefing.

The U.S. has approved one antiviral drug, remdesivir, specifically for COVID-19, and allowed emergency use of three antibody therapies that help the immune system fight the virus.

Health experts have increasingly called for a convenient pill that patients could take themselves when symptoms first appear. Some drugmakers are testing such medications, but initial results aren’t expected for several more months.

The new funds will speed those tests and support private sector research, development and manufacturing.