COVID-19: remarkable progress with vaccines and therapeutics

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented amount of research to find suitable vaccines and treatments for this viral condition. This article reviews the current status of the many emerging vaccines and other therapies and the associated supportive treatments to stabilise infected patients and to confer immunity to the population at large.

Introduction

The announcements from Pfizer/BioNTech and from Moderna early in November of the very positive efficacy data from their mRNA COVID-19 vaccine trials heralds not only the advent of vital weapons in the global fight against the pandemic but opens up the possibility of using new technologies in other infectious diseases such as influenza. In addition, the US FDA’s Emergency Use Approval of Eli Lilly’s neutralising monoclonal antibody LY-Cov555 (Bamlanivimab)and Regeneron’s antibody combination product (Casirivimab and Imdevimab) adds to our anti-COVID-19 armamentarium. The speed at which these developments have occurred is remarkable and without precedence in the history of drug discovery and development. Eli Lilly’s antibody took only 52 days from donor blood samples to GMP manufacture and 3 months to first patient entry.

These advances and many more ongoing developments are the result of truly excellent new partnerships between the pharma and biotech industries, academic and government research institutes and, importantly, the willingness of Regulatory Agencies to provide guidance and clear pathways to data review. Many companies have prioritised COVID-19 R&D against their other portfolio programmes and projects and in doing so have restructured their activities to include such features as parallel processing, accelerated digital systems, delegation of decision making and distant clinical trials; features that will probably increase the efficacy and effectiveness of their overall R&D efforts going forward.

This is an extract of an article by Trevor M Jones from Industrial Pharmacy Issue 67. Download your copy here.