Keeping tabs on Covid-19: US government grants billion-dollar funding for Covid-19 vaccine and pharma companies form global partnerships

Pharmaceutical companies are working together across the globe to pull resources to diagnose, treat and combat Covid-19

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Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the priority for the pharma industry has been to protect the wellbeing of its people – workers and patients. In previous Keeping tabs on Covid-19 round ups, we have seen companies work with hospitals to find new ways of monitoring it’s patients whilst adhering to government’s social distancing guidelines and ways to transform the complexities of rostering NHS staff in an agile and efficient way.

This week, Pharma IQ explore how pharma companies are coming together to form new partnerships to support its customers and how companies are working with government agencies to minimize manufacturing disruption.  

US government grants American vaccine company billion-dollar fund to develop Covid-19 candidate

Novavax, a vaccine development company, has been awarded US$1.6bn by the US government to participate in Operation Warp Speed (OWS) – a program aiming to deliver millions of doses of a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 in 2021.

The funding will help Novavax complete their late-stage clinical studies necessary to determine the safety and efficacy of NVX-CoV2373, including a pivotal Phase III clinical trial with up to 30,000 subjects beginning in the fall of 2020. Novavax claimed the NVX-CoV2373 vaccine consists of a stable, prefusion protein made using the company’s proprietary nanoparticle technology.

Under the terms of the funding agreement, Novavax will need to demonstrate they can rapidly stand up large-scale manufacturing and transition into ongoing production, including the capability to stockpile and distribute large quantities of NVX-CoV2373 when needed.

Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novavax, said: “The pandemic has caused an unprecedented public health crisis, making it more important than ever that industry, government and funding entities join forces to defeat the novel coronavirus together. We are honored to partner with OWS to move our vaccine candidate forward with extraordinary urgency in the quest to provide vital protection to our nation’s population.”

Alex Azar, US Health and Human Services Secretary, said: “Adding Novavax’ candidate to OWS’s diverse portfolio of vaccines increases the odds that we will have a safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year. Today’s US$1.6bn investment supports the Novavax candidate, depending on success in clinical trials, all the way through to manufacturing 100 million doses for the American people.”

Biotech company partners with product developers to advance its drug for Covid-19 into clinical trails

Immune Regulation Ltd, a US- and UK-based clinical stage biotechnology company, has entered into a teaming agreement with DynPort Vaccine Company (DVC) to evaluate the effectiveness of Immune Regulation’s drug product ILR201104 to treat Covid-19-related Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in US clinical trials.

Immune Regulation claims ILR201104 has shown to quickly reduce excessive infiltration of neutrophils in the lungs in a preclinical model of acute lung inflammation and maintain effects for at least 24 hours. Based on the results, the company’s scientists concluded a short course of treatment with IRL201104 would be able to provide a marked reduction in the numbers of infiltrating neutrophils into the lungs, potentially reducing the overwhelming inflammatory response and restoring the levels of blood oxygen.

Jonathan Rigby, Group Chief Executive Officer of Immune Regulation, said: “We are very pleased to be working on a therapeutic approach that can potentially reduce Covid-19-related ARDS. Doing this in partnership with a world-class company like DVC significantly improves our chances of a successful outcome and we are delighted by the prospect.”

Gary Nabors, President of DVC, added: “Immune Regulation has a unique solution to the problem of ARDS, which is potentially fatal in patients with advanced Covid-19. DVC is excited to partner with Immune Regulation to bring ILR201104 to patients who are in need of more effective therapies.”

Italian pharma firm forms global partnership to provide glass vials for two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines under development

Stevanato Group and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) have forged a global partnership to provide a supply of 100 million Type 1 borosilicate glass vials to hold up to two billion doses of a vaccine against the Covid-19 virus, should products be proven safe and effective.

This supply will form part of CEPI’s efforts to rapidly speed up the vaccine development timeline through making progress on manufacturing in parallel with the clinical development of Covid-19 candidate vaccines.

As international efforts to find a vaccine to combat Covid-19 intensify, worldwide supplies of medical-grade glass vials to deliver the billions of doses of vaccines also needed to increase in production. Without medical glass vials, vaccines cannot be stored or delivered, and patients cannot be vaccinated.

Franco Stevanato, Chief Executive Officer of Stevanato Group, said: “Since the pandemic outbreak, we have activated a taskforce acting on two fronts. On one side, we have been implementing all the health and safety measures to protect our staff in all our global operations, and we have been supporting with donations the unprecedented effort of the hospital staff in a multitude of healthcare structures.

“On the other hand, we have proactively increased our global capacity to sustain the industry’s scale-up industrialization need. We are proud to support CEPI in this important project. We share the same deep sense of responsibility and commitment to achieving our industry goal of successfully addressing this public health challenge, ensuring no patient is left behind.”

Dr. Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer of CEPI, commented: “In addition to accelerating the development of Covid-19 vaccine candidates, CEPI is working with partners around the world to begin the manufacture of millions of vaccine doses so that, should a candidate be proven to be safe and effective, it will be available to those in need without delay.”

For more on drug discovery and development to combat Covid-19, explore how Dassault Systèmes and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson are using molecular modeling for drug repurposing, detection of SARS-CoV-2 and vaccine design in Pharma IQ’s latest on demand webinar.