29 Jun Top News
- WHO-led ACT-Accelerator publishes investment cases – $31.3 billion needed for tools to fight COVID-19, unveils ambitious plan to deliver 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to high-risk population.
- AstraZeneca, Japan start talks over supply of COVID-19 vaccine, involving Daiichi Sankyo
- Scientists begin to understand the many health problems related to COVID-19
- WHO: The consolidated investment case for tools against COVID-19 calls for US$31.3 billion over the next 12 months. US$3.4 billion has been contributed to date, resulting in a funding gap of US$27.9 billion, of which $13.7 billion is urgently needed. Pillar plans published today show a path to the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of 500 million tests to LMIC’s by mid-2021, 245 million courses of treatments to LMICs by mid-2021, and 2 billion vaccine doses, of which 1 billion will be purchased for LMICs, by the end of 2021.
- STAT News: WHO, partners unveil ambitious plan to deliver 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to high-risk populations. In addition to the funding — $11.3 billion of which must be raised in the next six months — the project would also need commitments from high- and upper-middle income countries to purchase up to 950 million doses of vaccine. Countries will be offered “shares” of the nine candidate vaccines that CEPI is supporting, as well as other vaccines the consortium may end up purchasing. The idea is that because it is not known which vaccines will be successful, purchasing shares in a pool — to be called the Covax facility — will broaden a country’s chances of having access to vaccines. It is expected that charitable donors will help support shares for low- and middle-income countries.
- Reuters: WHO-led coalition says $31.3 billion needed for tools to fight COVID-19. The investment required is significant, but it pales in significance when compared to the cost of COVID-19 – less than a tenth of what the IMF estimates the global economy is losing every month due to the pandemic. At a WHO briefing, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said the vaccines pillar under the ACT-Accelerator (COVAX) has had “really very constructive” engagement with companies about the involvement of the private sector.
IP, PRICING & ACCESS
- Times of India: ‘India to have say in COVID vaccine distribution’. India’s COVID diplomacy has moved beyond hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol to ensure that the country can leverage its position as the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers to be part of the search and distribution of the COVID vaccine.
- Kyodo News: AstraZeneca, Japan to start talks over supply of COVID-19 vaccine. The drugmaker’s Osaka-based unit said it will cooperate with Daiichi Sankyo Co., Meiji Seika Pharma Co. and KM Biologics Co. to secure a stable supply of the vaccine for Japan.
- EURACTIV: A COVID-19 vaccine must have a ‘global public good’ guarantee. Op-ed by MEP Marc Botenga, GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament. Pharmaceutical companies have been privatising and locking up the knowledge created through public funds or public research with intellectual property rights.
- Reuters: AstraZeneca, Moderna most advanced in COVID-19 vaccine race: WHO.Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said that AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate is probably the world’s leading candidate and most advanced in terms of development, with Moderna’s candidate being “not far behind”. The WHO is in talks with multiple Chinese manufacturers, including Sinovac on potential vaccines, as well as with Indian researchers, Swaminathan said. Andrew Witty, Special Envoy for the ACT-Accelerator, said it was important to consider a “portfolio of research efforts” for vaccines.
- CNBC: Coronavirus vaccine will not be a cure-all, virologist warns. Robert Lambkin-Williams, an independent virologist at Virology Consult Ltd, said there was no clear evidence that antibodies produced to fight off the virus gave people any protection against being reinfected with COVID-19.
- Reuters: Brazil university in talks to test Italian coronavirus vaccine. Francesco Vaia, the chief medical officer at Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute, said the institute had agreed to do Phase II and III trials in Sao Paulo, once it completes the first phase which is expected to start in Italy in the first half of July.
TREATMENT DEVELOPMENT & REPURPOSED DRUGS
- FiercePharma: Immuno-oncology blockbusters from Merck, BMS, Roche, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and MSD linked to poor COVID-19 outcomes: study. The Nature study, involving cancer patients diagnosed with COVID-19, showed that certain cancer treatments could worsen the health condition of cancer patients also suffering from COVID-19, leading to more patients receiving mechanical lung ventilation.
- Daily Sabah: South Korea adds remdesivir to COVID-19 treatment guidelines, urges caution with dexamethasone. South Korea has added Gilead’s anti-viral drug remdesivir to its coronavirus treatment guidelines in the first revision of recommendations since the outbreak began. The guidelines urge caution in the use of the steroid therapy dexamethasone, however.
- Clinical Trials Arena: Algernon gets ethics approval for Ifenprodil’s COVID-19 trial in US. Canada-based Algernon Pharmaceuticals has obtained ethics approval from a central institutional review board for study sites in the US to conduct its Phase IIb/III clinical trial of Ifenprodil to treat Covid-19.
- C&EN: Developing countries face diagnostic challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic surges. LMICs are particularly vulnerable to the surging pandemic, as many have no domestic capacity for manufacturing diagnostic tests, and rely heavily on imports. But with global supplies at a premium, LMICs either cannot afford pricey analytical equipment or reagents, or are simply unable to find manufacturers willing to supply them. FIND and other groups aim to boost testing capacity in LMICs.
- Politico: Study: COVID-19 antibody tests get more accurate 2 weeks post-infection. The reviewfrom Cochrane looked at some 54 studies that used a variety of antibody tests, with the intention to understand their accuracy. It showed shows that antibody tests could have a useful role in detecting if someone has had COVID-19, but that timing is important. The tests were better at detecting COVID-19 in people two or more weeks after their symptoms started, but we do not know how well they work more than five weeks after symptoms started.
- News Medical: IQWiG supports Healthy Agency of Emilia Romagna region in Italy in initial assessment of coronavirus diagnostics. Having analyzed a total of 40 studies worldwide, the authors of the HTA report conclude that antibody tests can detect a past infection with SARS-CoV-2. However, the accuracy of the tests is not yet sufficient.
EPIDEMIOLOGY & DISEASE CHARACTERISTICS
- Reuters: Scientists just beginning to understand the many health problems caused by COVID-19. In addition to respiratory distress, patients with COVID-19 can experience blood clotting disorders that can lead to strokes, and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems. The virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headache, dizziness and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion.
- STAT News: Watch: It’s not just the lungs: The COVID-19 virus attacks like no other ‘respiratory’ infection. Thomas McGinn, deputy physician in chief at Northwell Health and director of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research stated that it is amazing how many different ways it affects the body.
- STAT News: When COVID-19 hits the brain, it can cause strokes, psychosis and a dementia-like syndrome, new survey shows. The study underscores how aggressively the coronavirus can attack beyond the lungs, and the risk the disease can pose to younger adults.
- Politico: Over 42 percent in Austria’s Ischgl have coronavirus antibodies, study finds. According to a studyconducted by the University of Innsbruck, this is currently the highest rate ever found.
EUROPEAN ECONOMIC IMPACT
- FT: Europe’s recovery will be ‘restrained’, Christine Lagarde warns. Soaring household savings will hold back consumer demand, ECB president says.
WHO – COVID-19 UPDATE, 26 June
Statement by Dr Tedros during today’s media briefing (focused on ACT-Accelerator) here.
- It’s clear that to bring COVID-19 under control, and to save lives, we need effective vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics – in unprecedented quantities and at unprecedented speed.
- And it’s clear that because all people are at risk of COVID-19, all people should have access to all the tools to prevent, detect and treat it – not only those who can afford to pay for them.
- The principle of equitable access is a simple thing to say, but a complicated thing to implement – it requires active collaboration between governments, industry, health organizations, civil society organizations, and communities.
- Vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics are vital tools – but to be truly effective they must be administered with another essential ingredient, which is solidarity.