What are pharmaceutical companies doing to tackle COVID-19?

There are significant global efforts underway to diagnose, treat and prevent infections from the virus. Pharmaceutical companies are working globally to combat COVID-19 and have led the way in developing new vaccines and treatments. They continue to scale up global supply. 

Pharmaceutical companies have deep scientific knowledge gained from decades of experience with similar viruses. 

Companies are working on:

1. Stepping up global supply of approved vaccines

At October 2021, global COVID-19 vaccine production reached 9.3billion doses. The vaccine production effort is estimated to reach 12.5 billion doses by the end of 2021 and double again to 24 billion doses by June 2022, at which time vaccine supplies will most likely outstrip global demand.

The global industry has committed to 5 steps to urgently advance COVID-19 vaccine equity. Find out more on the IFPMA website.

Many companies are already working together in partnership to scale up supply of vaccines for COVID-19.

AstraZeneca is collaborating with more than 20 partners to scale up supply of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, including through the multilateral COVAX initiative. This includes Oxford BioMedica and CP pharmaceuticals in the UK.

Johnson & Johnson works with more than 12 partners on their vaccine, including Sanofi and Merck & Co.

Novavax collaborates with 14 partners, including Takeda in Japan and GSK in the UK.

Pfizer and BioNTech have more than 10 partners to manufacture and distribute their vaccine around the world. This includes a collaboration with Biovac to manufacture and distribute Covid-19 vaccine doses within Africa.

Moderna has more than 20 partners, including Lonza in the EU.

Read more about pharmaceutical company collaborations in ‘Unprecendented: The Rapid Innovation Response to COVID-19 and the Role of Intellectual Property’.

2. Developing more vaccines

In addition to existing approved vaccines, pharmaceutical companies are working to discover more which might provide vital tools for fighting the pandemic.

In total, there are more than 130 vaccines in clinical development, and 194 more in pre-clinical. (Source: World Health Organisation vaccine tracker, accessed 15 December 2021) 

Examples include:

GSK announced that it will work with CureVac to jointly develop next generation mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 with the potential to address multiple emerging variants. GSK will also support the manufacture of 100 million doses of CureVac’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate in 2021. 

GSK and Sanofi are also working on a recombinant adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine. ​

GSK is also working with Canadian biopharmaceutical company Medicago, to develop a COVID-19 vaccine by combining Medicago’s plant-derived vaccine candidate with GSK's adjuvant technology. The companies have announced phase 3 trial results

Curevac and the UK Government are collaborating on the development of vaccines against COVID-19

3. Developing more treatments

There are a number of treatments already approved for use around the world. Pharmaceutical companies are continuing the search to find more.

At the middle of December 2021, there are more than 332 medicines in various stages of development. (Source: Milken Institute)

Examples of treatments now available include: Astrazeneca’s antibody therapy (in the US) and antivirals from Pfizer and MSD as well as GSK

Novartis is working with Molecular Partners to develop two potential antiviral treatments for COVID-19 based on a new class of protein therapeutics.