Antiviral Program for Pandemics

A blue illustration of a generic virus shape.
Credit: NIAID

The Antiviral Program for Pandemics (APP) aims to develop safe and effective antivirals to combat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as to build sustainable platforms for targeted drug discovery and development of a robust pipeline of antivirals against viruses with pandemic potential.

Why Is the Study of Antivirals a Priority for NIAID?

Widespread availability of highly effective oral antivirals that can be taken at home early in the course of infection, would prevent transmission of the virus and overwhelming surges in hospitalizations, ultimately saving lives.

How Is NIAID Addressing This Critical Topic?

In 2020, NIAID and partnering NIH Institutes and Centers initiated an intensive research program to prioritize and accelerate development of COVID-19 therapeutics. These ongoing efforts will be enhanced through the APP’s discovery and development initiatives.

APP projects will be led and overseen by NIAID, NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH’s Office of Research Infrastructure Programs and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

Classes of Antivirals Considered for Support

APP will focus on antivirals that directly act against viral targets, specifically for RNA viruses of pandemic potential (Coronaviridae, including SARS-CoV-2, Paramyxoviridae, Bunyavirales, Picornaviridae, Filoviridae, Togaviridae, and Flaviviridae). Antivirals of interest are NEW chemical entities which include small molecules and biotherapeutics that directly block viral targets. Of particular interest is discovery and development of drug candidates with suitable safety profiles for broad use in the outpatient setting (e.g., oral, intranasal) to reduce viral burden in early stages of infection.

Antiviral Discovery

NIH will harness the creativity and strength of the biomedical research community by establishing comprehensive, cooperative therapeutics discovery groups to drive innovative antiviral drug development.

Read more about antiviral discovery

Antiviral Development

NIH will select the most promising antiviral candidates and support their preclinical and clinical evaluation to de-risk and accelerate drug development for COVID-19 and viruses with pandemic potential.

Read more about antiviral development
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