Antivirals have several advantages over vaccines. They tend to be broadly effective against viral variants and offer faster-acting protection than vaccines. In addition, antivirals are usually simple to transport and don’t require ultra-cold storage. And oral antivirals would have an advantage in terms of the speed of protection they offer. For SARS-CoV-2, antivirals also could provide an alternative to vaccines in the scores of vaccine-hesitant people. Additionally, antivirals have a proven track record against other viruses like HIV and hepatitis C, where vaccines aren’t available.
“We need antivirals,” surmised Kamlendra Singh, a molecular microbiology and immunology professor at the University of Missouri (Columbia, Missouri).
“It’s not that the vaccines aren’t working. They are working wonders,” Singh said. But antivirals will likely emerge as an indispensable tool as SARS-CoV-2 continues to mutate, Singh said.
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