Today, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, announced during a White House press briefing that the Biden administration is investing $3.2 billion in the research and development of oral antiviral therapies for COVID-19 and other viruses with limited treatments.
“Vaccines remain the centerpiece of our arsenal against COVID-19, but antivirals are an important complement to existing vaccines,” Fauci said.
Further, Fauci said, antivirals could play a role during the next pandemic. “There are few treatments that exist for many of the viruses that have pandemic potential,” he said.
During the briefing, Jeff Zients, the Biden administration’s coronavirus czar, said America was entering a summer of “joy, celebration, and increasing freedom from the virus,” and 14 states and the District of Colombia have already met the Jul 4 goal of vaccinating 70% of their adult populations with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Though briefly mentioning the threat of the Delta (B1617) variant, Zients emphasized now is the time to get vaccinated and said existing vaccines offer protection against the variant strain currently accounting for roughly 10% of US cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker shows that 377,215,060 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, and 314,969,386 have been administered, with 147,758,585 Americans fully vaccinated (65.0% of adults have received at least one dose).
CDC: Daily cases have declined 95% since January
At the briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said the new 7-day average was 12,190 COVID-19 cases per day, a 16% decrease from the previous week and the lowest average since the last week of March 2020. To put the significant decline into perspective, Walensky said on January 20, 2021, the 7-day average was 250,000 cases per day.
The United States reported 12,430 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 368 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total, the United States has confirmed 33,503,305 COVID-19 cases, including 600,763 deaths.
But the sharp declines are not occurring evenly across the country, the Associated Press reports. In Texas, the rolling average of new infections has climbed from 1,000 per day on May 31 to nearly 2,000 this week. And parts of Missouri are seeing a rise in cases and hospitalizations. This leaves some experts concerned that the United States will have pockets of communities that are vulnerable to new variants, leading to an even more divided country.
At the press briefing, all officials said vaccination should not be a partisan issue but rather a unified attempt at returning to normal all-American life.
In other vaccine news, the Biden administration has purchased an additional 200 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, Axios reports. The additional doses could be used to vaccinate children or as a booster shot.