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Frequently asked questions

PAD is a global initiative launched by The Novo Nordisk Foundation, Open Philanthropy, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to catalyze discovery and early development of antiviral drug candidates to help ensure the world is better prepared for future pandemics.

PAD supports explorative, preclinical and phase I clinical research across the globe to accelerate development of antiviral compounds for coronaviruses, orthomyxoviruses and paramyxoviruses. The primary focus will be on developing small molecules for oral delivery. 

PAD funding partners will use a variety of models, including direct grants and Requests for Proposals (RFPs), within defined research topics. RFPs will be posted on our website, and we invite researchers from around the world to submit proposals in these open calls.

PAD does not support work on vaccines, antibody therapy, epidemiology, social science or advocacy.

The ultimate success criteria for this initiative is to make the world better prepared for future pandemic threats. More specifically, this means we have achieved two outcomes: First, PAD’s support has helped create a number of phase 2-ready antivirals with properties that make them suitable also for low and middle-income countries. Second, PAD’s support has stimulated cutting-edge technology and new collaborations with the potential to transform antiviral drug discovery.

Yes, we welcome collaboration with other organizations who share our commitment to equitable access and innovative antiviral drug discovery.

No, PAD does not accept donations from individuals.

Vaccines and antivirals are critically important tools in pandemic and epidemic preparedness. A vaccine greatly reduces the risk that a virus will infect your body and cause disease, while antivirals work to treat a virus that has already entered your body and to inhibit the spread. However, while there are other existing and new initiatives working in the vaccine space where we’ve seen significant progress, activities and innovation in antiviral research have historically been underprioritized. 

In particular, we need safe and cheap antivirals that can be administered as pills or tablets at home and help keep infected people out of hospitals.  By focusing on small-molecule drugs that can be delivered orally and are cheaper and easier for patients to access than biologics, these efforts aim to help ensure the world is prepared to quickly develop and equitably deploy effective, accessible antiviral treatments next time a pandemic threat emerges.

These three virus families are widely considered to have the highest potential to generate a future pandemic threat, but many of the diseases they cause primarily affect people in low- and middle-income countries, which leads to a lack of market incentives for the research and development of effective drugs to treat them. These virus families include notable epidemic threats, such as Nipah virus, influenza, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The initial focus of PAD is on coronaviruses, paramyxoviruses, and orthomyxoviruses. As the world at large is currently investing in pandemic preparedness, many different and important initiatives are ongoing that overlap partially in focus with PAD. PAD seeks to avoid redundancy in efforts and will remain focused on antivirals, but the initiative’s priorities could change in the future if other viral families are determined to have high pandemic potential.

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2019, governments, public research institutions, private companies and philanthropies came together to develop effective diagnostics and vaccines at record speed. A highly efficacious vaccine was authorized for emergency use in 11 months. While innovations in vaccine R&D saved—and continue to save—lives around the world, antiviral treatments in the form of tablets or pills that can treat infected individuals at home, reduce the risk of hospitalization and death, and slow the spread of the virus have taken significantly longer to bring to market. 

If we don’t start preparing now, we risk finding ourselves in the same situation when the next pandemic strikes. With this in mind, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Open Philanthropy, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched PAD to help catalyze the preparation of novel antiviral treatments for potential future pandemics. 

To enable an effective response, these medicines need to be available to all people, regardless of where they live. That’s why equitable access is a core PAD principle.

The focus of PAD extends beyond coronaviruses to include future, unknown pandemic threats. With equitable access at the core of our mission, PAD will have a strict focus on drugs that are suitable for use in low- and middle-income countries.

Requests for proposals and areas of interest will be announced on the PAD website, where there will also be an option to sign-up for news and announcements from PAD. If you need to get in contact with PAD, please use the contact form here.

PAD – in brief

The world needs to be better prepared for future outbreaks of viruses with the potential to become serious pandemics. 

PAD is intended to help researchers worldwide create phase 2-ready small-molecule antiviral drug candidates for oral delivery that can be developed and deployed quickly and equitably next time the world faces a pandemic threat.

With equitable access as a core principle of the initiative, the founding partners are committed to ensuring that discoveries and innovations supported by PAD are accessible to people in low- and middle-income countries.

As a global philanthropic collaboration, we will combine our resources, knowledge, and expertise to fund both explorative and large-scale development projects aimed at ensuring the world has access to novel antiviral treatments when the next pandemic hits.

We look forward to collaborating with researchers, and with other funders from across public, private, and nonprofit sectors to accelerate this important research and development.