Coronavirus pharma news roundup – 10/07/20

As coronavirus vaccines and treatments advance rapidly through research and development, the world starts to consider what drugs and digital tools might be needed in the ‘new normal’. Here we round up the biggest COVID-19 digital, market access and R&D stories of the past week.

  • GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi are close to agreeing a £500m deal to supply the UK government with 60 million doses of their potential coronavirus vaccine.
  • The European Commission has conditionally approved Gilead’s remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19, the first drug officially cleared for use against the disease by EU regulators.
  • Meanwhile, the first healthy volunteers have started to receive doses of Gilead’s inhaled formulation of remdesivir, which it hopes could become an option for earlier-stage COVID-19 outside hospital.
  • The AGILE programme, which is researching a second wave of COVID-19 therapies in the UK, has begun testing its first potential drug that researchers hope could alter the course of the pandemic. The trial received a £2.2 million grant last month and the first candidate is an oral antiviral drug known as EIDD-2801 developed by the US pharma Ridgeback Therapeutics.
  • The UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry has called for digital techniques to be more widely used as part of a new post-COVID national research strategy that could make scientific discovery happen up to a thousand times faster.
  • Regeneron has begun a late-stage clinical trial testing its double “antibody cocktail” as a preventive treatment for COVID-19. Meanwhile, the US government has agreed a deal to ramp up manufacturing of the treatment – and claim the first supplies to be produced.
  • German vaccine firm CureVac has been awarded a €75 million loan from the European Investment Bank to boost its manufacturing capacity for its potential COVID-19 vaccine.
  • People in the UK who are recovering from coronavirus infections will be able to get advice from an online rehabilitation service later this month, says NHS England. The digital health portal – called Your COVID Recovery – will eventually provide access to healthcare workers and advice for “tens of thousands” of patients who could have long-term health issues related to COVID-19.