IFPMA Covid-19 Günlük Bülteni – 22 Nisan

22.04.2020

Top news:

  • As outbreaks appear to be growing in Africa, central and south America, and eastern Europe according to the WHO, the World Food Programme has warned of severe starvation with a short time window to act. The World Bank estimates that remittance flows, a vital source of finance for poor nations, will decrease by almost $110bn this year. European Commission planning a €2 trillion recovery plan.
  • A clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine, developed in collaboration of Pfizer & BioNTech, in Germany has been approved. As Roche works to launch its own antibody test, Roche is crucial of current antibody testing.
  • Earnings news and COVID-19 for Roche and Biogen.
  • People news: Rick Bright, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA), has abruptly left his position leading the organization.

SUPPLY OF MEDICINES & PPE

  • The Guardian: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned on Wednesday it will run out of masks within three to four weeks, raising the prospect that it will have to halt operations, AFP reports. Kenneth Lavelle, MSF’s deputy director of operations, said in a virtual press conference in Geneva, where the organisation is based, said the NGO would need roughly around a million masks a week for the next six months. Otherwise, “we might be faced with taking even more difficult decisions about stopping activities”, said Lavelle.
  • Economic Times: Baddi drug units feel side effects of virus curbs. Fifty pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities have shuttered their operations in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, Asia’s largest pharmaceutical hub, while others are operating at significantly reduced capacities after the region was declared a containment zone, raising concerns about the shortage of supply of medicines in the country.

GLOBAL RESPONSE

  • BioPharmaDive: BARDA director abruptly departs agency tasked with leading nation’s vaccine development. Rick Bright, director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, has abruptly left his position leading the organization. Gary Disbrow, currently with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, BARDA’s parent organization at HHS, will take over. Bright will still oversee some of the government’s coronavirus pandemic response, but in a smaller role as part of a private-public partnership led by the National Institutes of Health.
  • The Telegraph: British scientist to head UN task force distributing Covid-19 vaccine as US blocks G20 agreement. The US blocked the publication of a detailed agreement by G20 Health Ministers outlining a “global response” to the pandemic. Sir Andrew Witty, former chief executive of GSK, is set to lead an expert body which will organise the global effort to boost vaccine manufacturing capacity and ensure it is effectively and fairly distributed. The task force is being set up under the auspices of the WHO and the UN but may be co-chaired and operate independently if geo-political tensions demand it.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC & SOCIAL IMPACT

  • The Guardian: Fears of prolonged coronavirus downturn and second wave of US cases.  As financial markets staggered under fresh blows to the global oil industry on Wednesday, a survey of thousands of bosses revealed that they fear many companies will not survive the onslaught. Business leaders warned of a drawn-out recession and US health chiefs highlighted the prospect of a second wave of US cases in winter.
  • News 24: Coronavirus: Unprecedented R500bn social, economic relief plan to counter ‘devastating’ effect on economy. President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined a massive R500 billion social and economic spending plan to buffer some of the effects of the coronavirus on South Africa. The money will be spent on directly fighting the pandemic, providing tax relief schemes for distressed businesses, providing a loan guarantee for banks and income support payments for workers and for municipalities.
  • European Parliament & European Commission: Covid-19’s economic impact: €100 billion to keep people in jobs.During the crisis, the EU would provide financial assistance under the Sure programme in the form of loans granted on favourable terms to EU countries that request support. Assistance would finance national short-time work schemes, unemployment benefits and similar job protection measures. Up to €100 billion will be available to all 27 member states. Luxembourg Times reports (paywall)- European Commission officials are lining up a €2 trillion recovery plan to kick start the EU economy once the threat of coronavirus starts to subside.
  • The Guardian: World Bank warns of collapse in money sent home by migrant workers. Remittances to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are projected to fall by nearly 20% to $445bn (£360bn), “representing the loss of a crucial financial lifeline for many vulnerable households”, the World Bank said.
  • The Guardian: Coronavirus pandemic ‘will cause famine of biblical proportions’. The world is facing widespread famine “of biblical proportions” because of the coronavirus pandemic, David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme has warned, with a short time to act before hundreds of millions starve. More than 30 countries in the developing world could experience widespread famine, and in 10 of those countries there are already more than 1 million people on the brink of starvation.
  • The Brussels Times: Pharmaceutical industry feels ‘resilient’ to crisis.  35% of companies in the industry believe economic recovery will occur this year, according to a survey of over 200 companies by the Federation for Chemical Industries and Life Sciences. 54% of the companies believe the recovery will happen next year. While 4 out of 10 companies are anticipating a decline in turnover due to coronavirus, over 10% are expecting a profit.

VACCINE/ TREATMENT DEVELOPMENT & DONATIONS

IFPMA Members

  • Independent: Germany approves first human trials. A clinical test of a Covid-19 vaccine, developed by Pfizer and bioNTech, in Germany has been approved, according to the country’s Federal Institute for Vaccines. The trial will see 200 healthy participants between the age of 18 and 55 receive several variants of the vaccine, as scientists examine its efficacy in providing immunity against the virus.
  • Business Insider: A coronavirus vaccine probably won’t be ready before the end of 2021, according to a Swiss pharmaceutical giant. Dozens of teams of researchers across the world are racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, in order to stem the spread of coronavirus infections, bring down death rates, and allow countries to reopen their economies. A coronavirus vaccine will probably not be ready for use before the end of 2021 at the earliest. “According to the most likely scenario, we will not have a vaccination before the end of next year,” Severin Schwan, chief executive of Roche.
  • Forbes: HIV And Flu Drugs Prove Futile In Fight Against Coronavirus.  In a small randomized control study, researchers in China found that HIV drug Kaletra and influenza drug Arbidol have no effect on patients with mild to moderately severe COVID-19 infections.
  • STAT News: People are dying from coronavirus because we’re not fast enough at clinical research. Medical historians will look back and wonder what took so long to study new medicines to determine if they worked. Heroically, lots of studies are getting done in the face of COVID-19, and researchers are using innovative methods to do them, allowing studies to be modified quickly to include new treatments. But both remdesivir and chloroquine were identified as potentially active against SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory tests in February, and we still don’t know for sure if they work against the virus in people.
  • The Washington Post: Anti-malarial drug Trump touted is linked to higher rates of death in VA coronavirus patients, study says. An anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine drug President Trump promoted to treat covid-19 had no benefit and was linked to higher rates of death for Veterans Affairs patients hospitalized with the novel coronavirus, according to a study, raising further questions about the safety and efficacy of a treatment that has seen widespread use in the pandemic.

Others

  • PM Live: Microsoft teams up with pharma on COVID-19 plasma project. Microsoft has developed a self-screening tool that allows people who have recovered from COVID-19 to check if they can donate plasma to help others infected with the coronavirus. Microsoft has developed the tool – called the ‘Plasma bot’ – as part of its involvement in the CoVig-19 Plasma Alliance, a group of pharma companies and other groups trying to encourage plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients.
  • The Jerusalem Post: Israeli coronavirus vaccine developers secure $12m. funding boost. Researchers working towards a vaccine against COVID-19 at MigVax, an affiliate of the Migal Galilee Research Institute, have announced a $12 million investment to accelerate its efforts.
  • CNBC: India halts coronavirus antibody tests as reliability questioned. India has ordered a pause in testing for antibodies to the coronavirus because of concerns over the accuracy of the results, health officials said. The chief of epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research said he had asked health authorities to temporarily stop the tests for antibodies because of conflicting results.
  • Mashable: Duterte is offering US$20,000 for any Filipino who discovers coronavirus vaccine. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has announced a reward of P10 million (US$20,000) to the individual who comes up with a cure for COVID-19. The University of the Philippines (UP) and the UP Philippine General Hospital (PGH) will be given a “substantial grant” to expedite the process of finding a cure. However, Duterte didn’t reveal the amount. Patients who’ve recovered have been instructed to donate their blood for these two institutions to study and hopefully come up with a vaccine.

DIAGNOSTICS

  • Bloomberg: Roche CEO Blasts Faulty Coronavirus Tests While Touting Own Product.  Tests for antibodies to the virus have been so unreliable that the U.K., Spain and parts of the U.S. said they won’t be useful. The reason, according to Schwan, is that such tests are easy to develop, but devilishly hard to get right. Antibody tests are at the forefront of a push to assess who has potentially built up some immunity to the new coronavirus, pinpointing which health workers can be put on the front lines and who can leave confinement. “I can tell you, it’s a disaster,” he said. “These tests are not worth anything. Or have very little use.”
  • CNN: Abbott’s rapid tests can produce false negatives under certain conditions, the company says. Abbott Laboratories instructed health care providers last week not to use solutions known as “viral transport media” for samples tested on its ID NOW device, which runs one test at a time and can detect positive coronavirus cases in as little as five minutes and spit out negative results in 13 minutes.

EARNINGS & COVID-19

  • Fierce Pharma: Roche’s COVID-19 hopeful Actemra soars amid pandemic as Lucentis, Ocrevus falter Roche’s business has been steady during the COVID-19 crisis. But below the surface, executives still warn of volatilities, though not all of them are bad.  For one thing, sales of rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra jumped 30% to CHF 666 million ($687 million), significantly higher than the 8% increase it posted last year. “We’ve got additional production capacity if we need it, but so far we’ve been able to supply everything required, and we’re working on building a stockpile,” Roche’s pharma chief Bill Anderson said on a conference call on Wednesday. He said the trend will continue at least through the second quarter.
  • Fierce Pharma: Biogen execs outline setbacks, and potential gains, from COVID-19 pandemic Biogen recorded about $100 million in accelerated sales during the first quarter as doctors and patients rushed to secure treatment before societies went into lockdown. Going forward, the company expects revenue “volatility,” CFO Jeff Cappello. Biogen has seen business disruptions such as delays in dosing for multiple sclerosis infusion Tysabri and spinal muscular atrophy infusion Spinraza. Some providers have had to make “difficult prioritization decisions” as health systems come under siege from the pandemic.

DISEASE CHARACTERISTICS

  • STAT News: New analysis recommends less reliance on ventilators to treat coronavirus patients. By using ventilators more sparingly on Covid-19 patients, physicians could reduce the more-than-50% death rate for those put on the machines, according to an analysis.  “This is one of the first coherent, comprehensive, and reasonably clear discussions of the pathophysiology of Covid-19 in the lungs that I’ve seen,” said palliative care physician Muriel Gillick of Harvard Medical School

WHO – Daily COVID-19 update, 22 April

Statement by Dr Tedros here:

  • Most of the epidemics in Western Europe appear to be stable or declining.
  • Although numbers are low, we see worrying upward trends in Africa, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe.
  • WHO is also working actively to address the impacts of the pandemic on mental health.
  • Working with mental health experts around the world, WHO has produced technical guidance for individuals and health workers, recognizing the enormous strain they’re under.
  • WHO has sent more than 70 surge teams to countries to strengthen surveillance, and provide advice on infection prevention, how to treat patients, risk communication, lab capacity, data management, and much, much more.
  • In addition to supporting countries, we also track progress globally. Among countries that have reported data to WHO:
    • 78% have a preparedness and response plan in place;
    • 76% have surveillance systems in place to detect cases;
    • And 91% have laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19.
    • But we still see many gaps around the world.
    • Only 66% of countries have a clinical referral system in place to care for COVID-19 patients;
    • Only 48% have a community engagement plan;
    • And only 48% have an infection prevention and control programme and standards for water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities.