Coronavirus pharma news roundup – 14/08/20

Catch up on the latest coronavirus vaccine and digital tech news in our roundup of this week’s biggest stories.

  • Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen has slammed the amount Moderna is charging the US for the mRNA-1273 vaccine, saying that as taxpayer money had funded 100% of the work done to bring it to market the US is “paying twice” for the shot. The US has signed a deal for 100 million doses of the jab for a little over $1.5 billion – around $15 per dose or $30 per course, a steep discount on the $32 to $37 price per dose in its earlier smaller deals.
  • Russia has become the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, amid scepticism from international experts who have been unable to review or verify clinical data from the jab called ‘Sputnik V’.
  • Swiss medical data specialist Sophia Genetics has launched an AI platform that will sift through data generated at more than 1,000 hospitals around the world to try to work out how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve in the coming months and years.
  • The UK is to buy millions more doses of potential coronavirus vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, with the latter expanding its manufacturing operation in the country.
  • Pfizer has signed a multi-year agreement with Gilead to manufacture and supply the COVID-19 antiviral remdesivir, which is also being tested in combination with other drugs in an effort to fight the pandemic.
  • Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine produced higher levels of neutralising antibodies than produced by recovered patients in an early trial, paving the way for a phase 3 trial and potential approval by year-end.
  • The NHS is on the hunt for digital pioneers to reshape services during the pandemic. London has opened applications to its Fellowship programme, supporting change makers employed by NHS organisations in London to design and lead transformation projects underpinned by digital innovation.
  • Drugmakers have been working with data specialist Certara on a new tool that they hope could speed up the development of vaccines for COVID-19. The new “biosimulation” tool is designed to make it easier for vaccine candidates across multiple patient populations through the use of virtual patients and trials, providing insights before any real-life studies have to be carried out.
  • Just under 6% of England’s population – around 3.4 million people – had been infected with coronavirus by the end of June according to an estimate based on antibody tests.
  • After ditching its home-grown attempt at a coronavirus contact-tracing app for smartphones, the UK is ready to start pilot trials of a second version based on a platform developed by Apple and Google.
  • A new digital therapy is aiming to tackle depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, using a brain stimulation headset and therapy app that claims to have similar beneficial effects to drugs but with fewer side-effects.