IFPMA Press Review – 10 June 2020

COVID-19 Coordinated Response

US virus expert warns pandemic has further to run (FT)
Anthony Fauci, one of the doctors in charge of the US government’s coronavirus response, said that there is ‘no way’ COVID-19 will burn itself out through current public health measures like the SARS epidemic did in 2014, and so a vaccine would be needed. Asked about whether a coronavirus vaccine should be subject to price controls, Dr Fauci said that he had never seen price controls work, but added that a vaccine should be priced so people who need it can access it.
WHO clarifies comments on asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 (STAT|CIDRAP|WHO)
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Technical Lead on the COVID-19 pandemic, clarified on Tuesday that scientists have not determined yet how frequently people with asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 pass the disease on to others, a day after suggesting that such spread is very rare. The clarification comes after the WHO’s original comments incited strong pushback from outside public health experts, who suggested the agency had miscommunicated.
Switzerland – World Coronavirus Champion (HPW|DVK)
According to a new report assessing regional safety of 200 territories and regions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Asia and Europe were the most successful regions in fighting the coronavirus although there were wide variations within Europe in terms of how countries really performed. The report says that Switzerland is now the world’s safest country since the pandemic started, followed by Germany and Israel.
World leaders won’t gather at UN for first time in 75 years (AP)
Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, president of the U.N. General Assembly, said that world leaders will not be coming to New York for their annual gathering in late September because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the next two weeks, he hopes to announce how the 193 heads of state and government will give their speeches on pressing local and world issues during the assembly’s so-called General Debate.

COVID-19 Clinical Trials

EU-level collaboration on joint clinical assessment of medicines in a post-COVID-19 world (EFPIA)
EFPIA outlines numerous benefits from an EU level collaboration on joint clinical assessments between the Member States, towards improving patient access to innovative medicine, through harmonization of clinical data requirements and removal of duplicative assessments at country level. The EFPIA Health Technology Assessment Working Group (HTA WG) has proposed a number of key themes to support the development of an EU level system of joint clinical assessment that will achieve the objectives set out in the European Commission proposal.
‘COVID-19 Drug Trials Must Be Fit For Purpose’ (Pink Sheet Paywall)
Many trials are underway as part of efforts to find a new treatment for COVID-19. However, experts in the field of Clinical Pharmacology warned that it is important that these efforts comply with sound clinical pharmacology guidelines, in order to have the best chance of success in identifying potential treatments.

COVID-19 Vaccine

The Race for a Vaccine (Project Syndicate)
Mariana Mazzucato, Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London speaks with Ben Chu, Economics Editor at The Independent and Lizzy Burden, Economics reporter for The Telegraph, about the challenges of collaborating to develop a vaccine, and making sure it reaches everyone who needs it.

COVID-19 in Resource-Limited Settings

Scientists launch a study exploring how best to distribute COVID-19 vaccine in Africa (EPM)
Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, will work with the UN Environment Programme on a fast-track study in Rwanda to explore how cold-chain technology can be best used to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine throughout Africa. The study aims to define the gaps in infrastructure and develop a methodology for sustainable COVID-19 and other temperature-sensitive vaccine delivery.

Intellectual Property

Egypt nominates Mr Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh for the post of WTO Director-General (WTO|FT)
In addition to the nominations from Europe and Africa, Egypt, on 9 June 2020, nominated Mr Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced he will step down on 31 August 2020. Mr Mamdouh has played key roles in trade policy and diplomacy for 35 years, including as a senior WTO official.
EU weighs single bid for WTO job; trade chief Hogan confirms interest (Reuters)
European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan confirmed on Tuesday that he was considering a bid to become the next director-general of the WTO, as EU governments debated whether to unify around a single European candidate.

Global Health

United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy (United Nations)
The UN unveiled the Disability Inclusion Strategy, which provides the foundation for sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through all pillars of the work of the organization for the next decade. The strategy includes a system-wide policy and accountability framework, with benchmarks to assess progress and accelerate change on disability inclusion.
Opinion: Explaining the Pandemic Performance Differential (Project Syndicate)
Jim O’Neill, Chair of Chatham House, shares lessons for policymakers who are now devising plans to rebuild their economies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. He explains the correlation between a country’s success in managing the COVID-19 crisis and past economic-development rankings. Countries that have consistently achieved broadly shared dynamic growth have proven far more capable of containing the first wave of the pandemic.
One by One: Target 2030: Finding Opportunity in Crisis: How to Use COVID-19 to Build Better UHC Systems in Africa, Virtual Symposium (WHO Africa)
While speaking at a virtual symposium, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said that huge investments related to COVID-19 are creating several opportunities to accelerate action towards achieving UHC. In the post-COVID-19 era, she said that the present multisectoral planning and coordination across countries should continue. She also emphasised the need for shifting away from disease-specific approaches towards more integrated laboratory systems, local production of essential medicines and the important role of the private sector.
COVID-19 Could Reverse Gains Made For African Children (Save The Children)
Save the Children today launched a new paper ‘How To Protect A Generation At Risk’, which analyses the primary and secondary impacts of COVID-19 on Africa’s children. The agency warns that while children are not the highest-risk group in terms of direct fatalities, more action needs to be taken now to prevent the pandemic having far-reaching impacts on African children’s rights and wellbeing now and into the future.
Mass azithromycin administration: considerations in an increasingly resistant world (BMJ)
Recent studies have shown that mass administration of azithromycin in some areas can lead to a reduction in childhood mortality, which in turn has led to additional large-scale trials in many parts of the world. This paper provides evidence for the emergence of novel azithromycin resistance mechanisms in common bacterial pathogens like Salmonella, arguing that the appealing positive effects of mass drug administration might diminish with increasing azithromycin resistance.

HIV, Malaria & TB

Progress against HIV, malaria and TB is under threat, putting children at risk. Here’s what is needed (Access To Medicines Foundation)
COVID-19 and drug resistance are threatening to derail the progress made in the fight against HIV, malaria and TB epidemics. This new series of articles from the AMF assesses the current situation for each of these diseases and how to end their burden on children. With the last mile insight, greater momentum is needed to develop new child-friendly medicines for these diseases and to rapidly make them widely accessible. It identifies common areas of action to scale up progress and suggests that this a shared responsibility between the pharmaceutical industry, regulators and governments.


When vaccine is released, there won’t be enough to go around. Who will get it first? (ABC News)
To get the world moving and kickstart international travel again, a large amount of COVID-19 vaccines will be necessary. Medicines Australia CEO Elizabeth de Somer was mentioned stating one vaccine won’t cut it to reach herd immunity and manufacture vaccines at a large scale. Thomas Cueni, IFPMA DG was mentioned as stating that 12 to 15 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine would be needed. IFPMA estimates the global vaccines manufacturing capacity today at 5 billion, taking five to ten years to build a new vaccines manufacturing plant. Thomas Cueni also highlighted that never in the history of vaccines so many labs, so many companies are working on finding vaccines for the same disease, but that a discussion will be needed on the allocation of vaccines including low-income countries. He also warned that rushing a vaccine can deter public trust in medicine and encourage anti-vaxxer movements.
Q&A: Many different options and approaches are required to treat patients at different stages of infection: Thomas Cueni, Director General, IFPMA (ET)
Thomas Cueni, Director General of IFPMA, said that COVID-19 will set back global health progress for the first time in 70 years, and the goal of UHC must not be compromised despite the challenges faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He elaborated on how the biopharmaceutical industry has worked with national authorities to make regulatory adaptations to help ensure continued research and production of non-COVID-19 related medicines and vaccines. He explained member companies’ ongoing efforts towards increasing manufacturing capacities for the potential COVID-19 vaccines, once it becomes available.
IFPMA Statement – Global Vaccine Summit 2020 (IFPMA Video | IFPMA)
Thomas Cueni, the IFPMA DG, delivered a statement at the Global Vaccine Summit 2020. He spoke about the partnership between IFPMA member companies and Gavi for the last 20 years that has helped vaccinate more than 760 million children in the world’s poorest countries. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cueni said that IFPMA members are fully committed to accelerating development, production, and provide equitable access to safe and affordable COVID-19 vaccines, and also deliver on Gavi’s shared vision to reaching the next generation of 300 million children in the next 5 years with vaccines. Briefly commenting for the BBC, Thomas Cueni said it was reassuring to see that the importance of routine immunizations hadn’t been overshadowed by COVID-19.
What will it take to produce the billions of vaccines needed against COVID-19? (IFPMA)
Citing the unprecedented collaboration among companies on multiple technologies to find successful COVID-19 vaccines, Thomas Cueni said that the notion of equitable, available and affordable access to the vaccine is at the heart of what the industry is doing. He shared updates on the R&D for a COVID-19 vaccine front from the global media briefing of 28 May, from CEOs and CSOs from AstraZeneca, GSK, J&J and Pfizer. Cueni also shared the efforts on the part of the industry to overcome the challenges once a vaccine becomes available, with respect to conducting clinical trials, scaling up the production capacity and logistics for distribution, among others.
Interview: Coronavirus- Are we on the road to recovery? (IFPMA | BBC Sounds)
Thomas Cueni, the IFPMA DG, in an interview with BBC Sounds, spoke about the extent and importance of collaborations among biopharmaceutical companies as well as with other stakeholders, especially Universities and biotech companies to combat the COVID-19 crisis. He added that, once a vaccine becomes available, the initial demand will far outstrip the supply and many companies are looking at WHO for guidance on allocation principles. Cueni insists on the importance of teaming up on a global level, using international multi-stakeholder organizations such as Gavi and leveraging the sense of responsibility that biopharmaceutical companies share, fostering and promoting equitable access worldwide.


17 June | Virtual Meeting
COVID-19 and NTDs: engaging with the global community (WHO | Uniting to Combat NTDs)

WHO is organizing a webinar to discuss the new NTD road map and the impact of the pandemic on global NTD programmes. This inaugural webinar, which will be succeeded by seven others, will also discuss the implementation of prevention, control, elimination and eradication programmes in a changing NTD landscape and the adjustments needed to adapt to the new normal.
6 – 10 July | Virtual Meeting
International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020)

The 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020) offers an opportunity to unite to face the challenges of a deteriorating human rights climate, repressive and punitive national laws in many countries across the globe, increasing xenophobia and social exclusion, and the widening gap between those with and without access to health services.