When SARS-CoV-2 emerged at the end of 2019, no approved therapeutics or vaccines were available. An urgent need for countermeasures during this crisis challenges the current paradigm of traditional drug discovery and development, which usually takes years from start to finish. Approaches that accelerate this process need to be considered. Here we propose the minimum data package required to move a compound into clinical development safely. We further define the additional data that should be collected in parallel without impacting the rapid path to clinical development. Accelerated paths for antivirals, immunomodulators, anticoagulants, and other agents have been developed and can serve as “roadmaps” to support prioritization of compounds for clinical testing. These accelerated paths are fueled by a skewed risk-benefit ratio and are necessary to advance therapeutic agents into human trials rapidly and safely for COVID-19. Such paths are adaptable to other potential future pandemics. The global COVID19 pandemic underscores the urgent need for an accelerated path for drug discovery and development. In this Perspective, Grobler et al. outline roadmaps to support prioritization of the most promising therapeutic agents while ensuring clinical safety.