The initiative will catalyse discovery and early development of antiviral medicines for future pandemics
The Novo Nordisk Foundation, Open Philanthropy and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced an initial commitment of up to $90m of coordinated funding to support antiviral medicines for future pandemics.
It is hoped that the global initiative will accelerate the discovery and development of antiviral drug candidates that can be distributed quickly and equitably, next time the world faces a pandemic threat.
“The duration of the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a reminder that the world needs to invest in next-generation tools to combat emerging threats,” said Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation. “We can’t wait until the next pandemic hits to begin developing them.
The initiative – Pandemic Antiviral Discovery (PAD) – will catalyse discovery and early development of antiviral medicines for future pandemics. The founding partners are also committed to ensuring that discoveries and innovations supported by PAD are accessible to people in low and middle-income countries.
“We see this as a promising opportunity to address one of the most severe risks to global welfare,” said Alexander Berger, co-CEO of Open Philanthropy. “Given the significant and perhaps unprecedented potential for harm from pandemic viruses, we are especially interested in breakthrough research that applies to a wide swath of pathogen types.”
PAD aims to help researchers identify and develop phase 2-ready antiviral candidates targeting pandemic threat viruses, including coronaviruses, paramyxoviruses and orthomyxoviruses. These three virus families are widely considered to have the highest potential of generating a future pandemic threat, many of the disease they cause affecting people in low- and middle-income countries.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually come to an end, but the urgency of investing in the necessary tools to prevent and stop pandemics will only continue to grow,” said Trevor Mundel, president of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Ensuring antivirals can be deployed on short notice and at low cost to everyone who needs them is a critical step if we are to be prepared for the next pandemic. We look forward to collaborating with other funders from across public, private, and non-profit sectors to accelerate this important initiative with equitable access at its core,” he added