Pharmaceutical companies have deep scientific knowledge gained from decades of experience with similar viruses. Companies are researching vaccine candidates and undertaking inventories of research portfolio libraries to identify additional potential treatments for R&D.
Some have donated compounds with the potential to treat coronavirus for emergency use and clinical trials, including compounds formerly tested on other viral pathogens such as Ebola and HIV.
Other are exploring ways to use existing technologies that provide the ability to rapidly upscale production once a potential vaccine candidate is identified.
This page brings together examples of what pharmaceutical companies around the world are doing to tackle COVID-19. It’s updated regularly and sourced from EFPIA and their round-up of what companies are doing and the IFPMA and their hub of what companies are doing globally.
As of March 2020, there are at least: 14 companies with a medicine in early phase research, 4 companies with a medicine in Phase I of development and 3 in Phase II, and one company has a medicine in Phase III trials. Their efforts include:
While vaccines and small molecule treatments are approved through different regulatory pathways and their development programs vary, they generally both must complete three phases of clinical trials.
However, there are differences in the data required to show the safety of vaccines and the size of clinical trials for vaccines relative to small molecules.
Experts are hoping it will take as little as 12 to 18 months before there is a vaccine available.
This is a best-case estimate that assumes one or two of the first few vaccines that enter development will be successful. Typically, only approximately one in ten experimental vaccines make it all the way through to regulatory approval.
Therefore, the more companies taking different approaches to find a vaccine, the more “shots on goal” and significantly greater chances of success. Company efforts include:
Rolling out diagnostics to detect whether patients are genuinely infected with the new coronavirus is a key step in preventing or slowing its spread.
However, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has drastically increased the demand for testing kits around the world, especially in the United States and Europe, and governments are trying to ramp up their testing capacities.
Pharmaceutical companies are helping in this fight.
Curetis will soon make available across the EU a new rapid testing kit to detect COVID-19. The test kit, which has been developed and is manufactured by Curetis’ (Germany) strategic partner BGI (China), contains enough reagents and controls to test up to 48 patients in just a few hours.
Randox in Northern Ireland has a test that is compliant with WHO guidelines and identifies patients infected with COVID-19 and 8 other related/similar symptom viruses.
The test is currently available on a laboratory based system which tests up to 324 samples in 8 hours. Time to first result is ~ 4 hours. Randox are working with Bosch Healthcare to make available a point of care test which can give results in 3 hours