Skip to content

There's never been a greater need for safe, effective antivirals

  • Viruses (viral diseases) cause immense human suffering, particularly in developing counties
  • 95% of the viral diseases affecting humans have no approved antiviral treatment
  • Warming trends and other factors are worsening these problems
  • Covid-19 was a warning shot – there will be more pandemics
  • Vaccines will not be ready and waiting when the next pandemic occurs
  • Broad-spectrum antivirals are needed for the treatment of diseases and for pandemic preparedness.

The immense harm caused by viral disease

The harm caused to human life by pathogenic viruses is on an enormous scale. Historically, viruses such as smallpox killed hundreds of millions – perhaps over 300 million as late as the 20th century. The polio virus paralysed over 15,000 people every year. The 1918 flu pandemic may have killed upwards of 100 million people.

More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic broke the world, with over 700 million confirmed cases contributing to nearly 7 million deaths and causing economic harm of over NZ$20 trillion dollars.

Around 370 million people are infected with Hepatitis B, 40 million with HIV, countless millions more with Herpes Simplex 1 and 2 viruses, and hundreds of millions with Human Papilloma virus (HPV). About 450 million people are infected by Dengue each year, and around a billion with various strains of the influenza virus.

Climate and environmental factors are accelerating the spread of viral diseases

To make matters worse, warming trends, habitat loss and urban expansion are causing increased severity and expansion of infectious diseases, as well as driving the emergence of new viral threats. It’s predicted that by 2050, 500 million more people will be at risk from mosquito-borne diseases.

Vaccines alone are not the solution

While vaccination has been an effective approach to reduce the spread of many viruses, other viruses have proven difficult to vaccinate against. HIV, for example, still does not have a vaccine. Even when they’re possible, vaccines take time to develop, and viruses with a high mutation rate will eventually evade any fixed vaccine, requiring constant revision and re-vaccination.

The fact is, vaccines will not be ready and waiting when the next viral pandemic strikes, which could be short and severe, so antivirals must be developed in readiness to meet these threats.

Broad spectrum antivirals can be stockpiled for pandemic preparedness

Broad spectrum antivirals are urgently required. The ideal antiviral drugs would effectively treat a range of viruses, both known and yet-to-emerge, and would work prophylactically (as a preventative), as well as a treatment for acute illness. They would also provide protection against the threat of bioterror and biowarfare events, and the accidental release of viral agents.

Invest for Impact
Learn about our work
Back To Top