As of June 5, 2020
America’s biopharmaceutical companies are committed to developing solutions to help diagnose, treat and prevent COVID-19, a disease caused by a novel strain of coronavirus. Working across the health care ecosystem, biopharmaceutical companies, academia, hospitals and the public sector are collaborating with urgent dedication to bring about new medicines and vaccines that can help combat COVID-19.
Preventive vaccines help the body develop immunity to the coronavirus by imitating an infection, teaching the immune system how to identify and target the virus that can lead to COVID-19 without actually causing an infection.
Multiple biopharmaceutical companies are taking different approaches to developing a safe and effective vaccine, relying on past experience with diseases like Ebola and SARS. Currently, these companies are working at record speed towards or have already commenced Phase I trials. Typically, approximately one in ten experimental vaccines make it all the way through to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, which is why it’s important that a variety of companies are taking different approaches to find a vaccine. More “shots on goal” will significantly increase the chances of success.
Potential treatments for COVID-19 generally fall into four categories: antibody therapies, antiviral therapies, immunoglobulins/convalescent plasma and therapeutics approved for other indications.
- Antibody therapies, such as monoclonal antibodies are designed to recognize coronavirus surface proteins, that could be used to both prevent and treat COVID-19.
- Antiviral therapies work by attacking the virus directly, often by disrupting the virus’s ability to replicate itself.
- Immunoglobulins or convalescent plasma treatments are produced by harvesting blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19. This plasma contains antibodies capable of fighting the virus, which are isolated and injected into patients currently fighting COVID-19 to boost their immune response.
- Therapeutics approved for other indications include medicines that are already approved to treat diseases like malaria and other infectious diseases. In some cases, doctors have found these treatments may be helpful in fighting COVID-19, and biopharmaceutical companies are working closely with regulatory authorities including FDA to ensure they are available if and when they are shown to be safe and effective for use in COVID patients.
One potential antiviral treatment that was already tested for another disease is now in Phase III clinical trials, and researchers are working across the spectrum of potential treatments to develop additional ways to fight COVID-19.
By the Numbers
As of June 5, 2020, current efforts to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 include:
- More than 1,112 clinical trials for experimental treatments and vaccines are in development for COVID-19.[ii]
- More than 245 clinical trials have been expanded to take place in 45 States and the District of Columbia and about half of those U.S.-based clinical trials are sponsored by industry.
- 1 month is how long it took to sequence the virus, which is a necessary first step before developing a vaccine. The first vaccine was ready for study in patients just 2 months later. There are more than 50 other vaccine candidates progressing towards clinical studies.
- Thousands of doses of investigational and previously approved medicines, which may have potential to treat coronavirus, are being manufactured by PhRMA member companies for emergency use and for use in clinical trials around the globe, including compounds formerly tested on other viral pathogens such as Ebola and HIV.
Partnerships and Cooperation
Responding effectively to a public health emergency requires close collaboration between public and private organizations around the world to share insights that could accelerate treatment and prevention strategies. Already, leading PhRMA member companies are collaborating with relevant U.S. and global public health authorities, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), as well as public health authorities in China and Europe, to understand how pandemic preparedness platforms can be tailored to address the current emergency, and how to accelerate the development of potential treatments.
“We always need a pharmaceutical partner. I can’t think of a vaccine, even one in which we’ve put substantial intellectual and resource input, that was brought to the goal line without a partnership with industry. So this is a very natural process that we’re doing right now,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I have not seen in my experience situations in which we were involved in the development of a vaccine, particularly for low- and middle-income countries that really needed it, where the pharmaceutical companies priced it out of their reach.”
Learn more about the efforts underway to develop solutions to help diagnose, treat and prevent COVID-19.
[i]The following data represents U.S. sites, U.S. companies contributing to clinical trials overseas, and non-U.S. companies and sites generating data overseas
[ii]Numbers subject to change.
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