IFPMA Covid-19 Günlük Bülteni – 17 Nisan

17.04.2020

Top news:

  • The U.N. General Assembly has until Monday to consider a draft resolution, brought forward by Mexico and co-sponsored by about 75 countries, calling for global action to rapidly scale up development, manufacturing and access to medicine, vaccines and medical equipment to confront the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Institutional investors in 15 major pharmaceutical companies have called on the drugmakers to set aside rivalries and short-term interests and cooperate on finding solutions to the coronavirus.
  • G7 leaders have condemned the US’ move of halting funding to the WHO.
  • World Bank Group to launch new multi-donor trust fund to help countries prepare for disease outbreaks
  • Initial findings from a Chicago hospital show Gilead’s remdesivir to be effective in treating COVID-19 patients.
  • Roche is launching a new antibody test by hopefully early May & Abbot aims to roll out its rapid diagnostic test to the general population beyond healthcare workers by May
  • Sanofi expects to produce up to 600 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine in 2021 if its clinical trials with GSK go as planned

PRICING, ACCESS & IP

  • New York Times/Associated Press: Draft UN Resolution Urges Global Access to COVID-19 Material. The U.N. General Assembly has until Monday to consider a draft resolution calling for global action to rapidly scale up development, manufacturing and access to medicine, vaccines and medical equipment to confront the coronavirus pandemic. The measure, drafted by Mexico and co-sponsored by about 75 countries, recommends options to ensure timely and equitable access to testing, medical supplies, drugs and future coronavirus vaccines for all in need, especially in developing countries.
  • The Lancet: Comment: COVID-19: time to plan for prompt universal access to diagnostics and treatments. Luca Li Bassi, Pharmaceutical Management Advisory Services, Geneva, and Lenias Hwenda, Founder, Medicines for Africa, say that a global approach must be taken to ensure that all technologies will be simultaneously and promptly available in an equitable and efficient way that is affordable to all. Without pre-agreed frameworks and emergency response plans ready to be deployed at the first signal of a global health threat, political leaders have substantially affected the mitigation of COVID-19 public health crisis.
  • Independent: To find a vaccine for coroanvirus, pharmaceutical companies will have to abandon the race for profit. This article implies that evidence was accumulating even before this disease outbreak that the IP regime around drugs was inefficient in stimulating research – and that it gave outsize financial rewards to pharmaceutical firms that rely on an increasing amount of publicly funded basic research. The author speculates that one legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic will be a welcome rebalancing of private profit and public benefit when it comes to all life-saving, or life-extending, medicines.

INDUSTRY REPUTATION/RESPONSE

  • Sloan Review: In the face of a Pandemic, Can Pharma Shift Gears? For pharma, the COVID-19 pandemic is a moment of both great opportunity and great challenge. If the industry reacts quickly and responsibly, it may have the chance to redeem a reputation that’s been tarnished for years by. However, if pharma companies fail to demonstrate that they truly put patients’ needs first and that they are willing and able to successfully collaborate with other players in the race to develop treatments and vaccines, their legitimacy will be fundamentally questioned.
  • Reuters: Institutional investors tell Big Pharma to cooperate on coronavirus. Institutional investors in 15 major pharmaceutical companies have called on the drugmakers to set aside rivalries and short-term interests and cooperate on finding solutions to the coronavirus. The investor group – which holds more than 1.9 trillion euros ($2.1 trillion) in assets and includes Nordea, Nomura, Boston Common Asset Management and Dutch pension fund PGGM – said it will send drugmakers including Roche (ROG.S), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and Gilead (GILD.O), a list of principles it wants them to abide by for the coming year. The list includes prioritising the development of tests, medicines and vaccines, working together on data-sharing, paying suppliers on time, understanding if customers have financial hardship and ensuring supply lines are working.

GLOBAL RESPONSE

  • World Bank: World Bank Group to Launch New Multi-donor Trust Fund to Help Countries Prepare for Disease Outbreaks. The World Bank Group is planning to establish a new Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Multi-Donor Fund (HEPRF). The HEPRF will provide incentives to low-income countries to increase investments in health preparedness and support the immediate COVID-19 response. In doing so, the HEPRF will help to guide critical health security investments now and in years to come. Japan has expressed its intention to become the founding donor of the new Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Multi-Donor Fund, which is now open for contributions from all donor countries.

SUPPORT FOR WHO

  • Politco : G7 leaders chide Trump over WHO funding stop. Leaders of the G7 — which consists of the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, and Canada, plus the European Union — met via videoconference on Thursday to coordinate national responses to the disease. Yet Trump’s sudden announcement Tuesday night that he would halt funding to the WHO overshadowed the discussion. Leaders from Germany, Canada and the EU Commission called for support and solidarity with the WHO. 

GLOBAL ECONOMIC & SOCIAL IMPACT

  • BBC: China’s virus-hit economy shrinks for first time in decades. China’s economy shrank for the first time in decades in the first quarter of the year, as the virus forced factories and businesses to close. The financial toll the coronavirus is having on the Chinese economy will be a huge concern to other countries. China’s economic recovery from the coronavirus outbreak is going to be tied to how other countries fare in the global recession, former Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Friday.
  • DownToEarth: Shocks caused by COVID-19: Addressing chronic poverty, its inter-generational transfer. The disease burden and out-of-pocket spending at times of ill-health are very high in India. The lockdown led to closure of businesses, job losses and extreme distress, exposing the vulnerability of a large proportion of the population, pushing them further into poverty.

GLOBAL HEALTH IMPACT

  • Japan Times: Coronavirus could erode global fight against other diseases. As the world focuses on the pandemic, experts fear losing ground in the long fight against other infectious diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and cholera that kill millions every year. Also, at risk are decades long efforts that allowed the WHO to set target dates for eradicating malaria, polio, and other illnesses.

VACCINE/ TREATMENT DEVELOPMENT

IFPMA Members

Others

  • New York Post: Researchers find rheumatoid arthritis drug is promising coronavirus treatment. Researchers at Georgia State University have found that auranofin, a drug approved for rheumatoid arthritis, may be an effective treatment against the coronavirus. With auranofin, the coronavirus was cut down by 95% in human cells within 48 hours, and inflammation caused by the disease was significantly mitigated.
  • Boston Globe: Moderna soars after getting $483 million in federal funding for coronavirus vaccine development. The US government is pledging up to $483 million to accelerate the development of Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna’s chief executive, Stephane Bancel, said that the money will enable the company to supply “millions of doses per month in 2020 and with further investments ― tens of millions per month in 2021 ― if the vaccine candidate is successful in the clinic.”
  • Bloomberg: Virus Vaccine May Be Ready for Mass Production By Autumn, Oxford Professor Says. A coronavirus vaccine trial by University of Oxford researchers aims to get efficacy results by September, and manufacturing is already underway. A team led by Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology, has recruited 500 volunteers from the ages of 18 to 55 for the early- and mid-stage randomized controlled trial. It will be extended to older adults and then to a final stage trial of 5,000 people. Gilbert said that the timing is ambitious but achievable.
  • Wellcome Trust: JeremyFarrar is joining the UK gov taskforce to coordinate coronavirus vaccine research.

Ethics

  • Reuters: FDA may have dropped standers too far in the hunt for chloroquine to fight coronavirus sources. Although some rules can be waived in an emergency, the FDA dropped its quality-control standards too far as it scoured the world for scarce supplies of chloroquine drugs, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The plants that make Resochin ingredients and finished doses in India and Pakistan have never been registered with, or inspected by, the FDA, according to the three government sources.
  • NBC News: Unapproved Chinese coronavirus antibody tests being used in at least 2 states. Some COVID-19 antibody tests, including those being used by public health departments in Denver and Los Angeles and provided to urgent care centers in Maryland and North Carolina, were supplied by Chinese manufacturers that are not approved by China’s Center for Medical Device Evaluation, a unit of the National Medical Product Administration, or NMPA, the country’s equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

DIAGNOSTICS

  • Financial Times: Roche to launch new antibody test for coronavirus. Roche is launching an antibody test for coronavirus that it hopes will be available next month. The company’s manufacturing capacity will reach the high double-digit millions per month by the end of June. Roche’s CEO Severin Schwan also told the FT that Roche was looking at point-of-care tests for the new coronavirus, though development is not yet at an advanced stage.
  • Forbes: By June, Abbott Labs rapid coronavirus test to reach general population. Abbott hopes to begin rolling out its rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 to the general population beyond “frontline healthcare workers” in May and into June. The effort to get the ID NOW COVID-19 test to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the battle against the deadly virus has been the first priority of Abbott amid the daunting diagnostic effort under way in the U.S.

COVID-19: FOCUS ON AFRICA

  • Al Jazeera: Coronavirus cases could hit 10 million in 6 months estimate WHO. Coronavirus cases in Africa could surge from just thousands now to 10 million within three to six months, according to provisional modelling. Michel Yao, head of emergency operations for WHO Africa, said on Thursday it was a tentative projection that could change. He noted worst-case predictions for the Ebola outbreak had not come true because people changed their behaviour in time.

COVID-19 & POLITICS

WHO – Daily COVID-19 update, 17 April

Statement by Dr Tedros here:

  • The coronavirus solidarity fund has generated $150 million from more than 245,000 individuals, corporations, and foundations.
  • Most countries in Africa have COVID-19 testing capacity, but there is a significant gap of testing kits.
  • In the past week there has been a 51% increase in the number of reported cases in my own continent, Africa, and a 60% increase in the number of reported deaths.
  • We’re also working hard to accelerate the development, production & equitable distribution of a COVID19 vaccine. Yesterday I spoke to President Emmanuel Macron, Bill Gates and other partners to discuss how to prevent another pandemic by getting vaccines from labs to people as fast as possible and as equitably as possible

NEW WHO RESOURCES

Considerations in adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19.

  • Although it is unknown how the pandemic will continue to evolve, three outcomes can be envisaged:
    • i. complete interruption of human-to-human transmission
    • ii. recurring epidemic waves (large or small)
    • iii. continuous low-level transmission
  • The decision to introduce, adapt, or lift public health and social measures (PHSM) should be based on a risk assessment with a standard methodology to balance the risk of relaxing measures, capacity to detect a resurgence in cases, capacity to manage extra patients in health facilities or other locations, and ability to re-introduce public health and social measures, if needed.