IFPMA Covid-19 Günlük Bülteni – 23 Nisan

23.04.2020

Top news:

  • 24 April – WHO and national and global partners launch a landmark collaboration to accelerate development, production and deployment of safe and effective technologies to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19 – making them accessible to everyone who needs them, worldwide (press conference 1-3pm CET – attached email announcement)
  • WHO warns that hard fought gains in immunization coverage at risk without critical health services due to COVID-19 pandemic & WHO modelling study suggests that deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa could double due to disrupted access to antimalarials and insecticide-treated net campaigns
  • China to donate an extra $30m to the WHO to fight COVID-19
  • A coronavirus vaccine candidate by Inovio Pharmaceuticals enters human testing trial in the US & another vaccine candidate, developed by Oxford University, entered clinical trial in the UK
  • EMA warned that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could cause serious heart rhythm issues

AFFORDABILITY

 
SUPPLY OF MEDICINES

  • MedCity News: Addressing the pharma supply chain problem during COVID-19. Despite typically high safety stock levels and buffer inventory across the biopharma supply chain, there are signs that the sum and magnitude of supply chain disruptions could impact the industry’s ability to get treatments to patients. In the last two months since the pandemic began, 15 new drugs have been added to the US FDA drug shortage list.

 
GLOBAL RESPONSE

  • Financial Times: China to give WHO an extra $30m to fight coronavirus. Hua Chunying, the foreign ministry’s chief spokesperson, said the donation was in addition to $20m China gave last month to the and would focus on “strengthening developing countries’ health systems”. The additional funding comes a week after Donald Trump said was he was suspending US funding.

 
GLOBAL HEALTH IMPACT

  • WHO: Hard fought gains in immunization coverage at risk without critical health services, warns WHO. Shutting down immunization services in the COVID-19 pandemic risks triggering a resurgence of diseases that can be prevented with safe and effective vaccines, warns WHO in the lead-up to World Immunization Week (24-30 April). As the response to COVID-19 continues, countries must act now protect immunization services, in order to further minimize disease outbreaks and loss of life. This includes, facilitating urgent catch up programmes in places where services have been disrupted, ensuring strong supply chains, disease surveillance and trained health workers. Caregivers should also make sure they continue to vaccinate their children in line with national policies.
  • WHO: WHO urges countries to move quickly to save lives from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Severe disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and in access to antimalarial medicines (due to COVID-19) could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year compared to 2018, according to a new modelling analysis released by WHO and partners ahead of World Malaria Day (25 April).
  • STAT News: Covid phobia is keeping people with serious heart symptoms away from ERs. Clinicians say patients with life-threatening conditions have stopped seeking treatment in large numbers. A survey of nine major US hospitals showed the number of severe heart attacks being treated had dropped by nearly 40% since COVID-19 took hold in March. The same seems to be true for appendicitis and stroke.

 ECONOMIC IMPACT

Global

  • Wall Street Journal: Global Economy Hit by Record Collapse of Business Activity. Business activity in the U.S., Europe and Japan collapsed in April as governments tightened restrictions on movement and social interaction aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus, according to surveys of purchasing managers. The surveys suggest governments have effectively closed parts of the economy where face-to-face interaction is unavoidable and activity has tumbled in parts of the economy less directly affected.

Europe

  • Financial Times: European business activity crashes under coronavirus lockdown. The IHS Markit flash eurozone purchasing managers’ index for services crashed from 26.4 in March to 11.7 in April, the lowest since records began in 1998. The index indicates how activity has changed compared with the previous month; a reading below 50 indicates that a majority of businesses reported a deterioration.
  • Financial Times: Confidence evaporates among Europe’s crisis-hit consumers. Consumer confidence in Europe has suffered a record monthly fall to its lowest level since the 2009 financial crisis, underlining the heavy impact of the economic and financial turmoil caused by coronavirus. The survey adds to pressure on EU leaders ahead of their summit on Thursday, when they will discuss potential joint fiscal responses to the disease. It also raises the stakes for the European Central Bank before it meets next week to discuss whether to further loosen monetary policy.

 VACCINE/ TREATMENT DEVELOPMENT

IFPMA Members

  • The Guardian: Hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus: a guide to the scientific studies so far. With endorsements from a controversial French physician, Fox News, and Donald Trump, hydroxychloroquine – an old anti-malarial drug that is today more commonly used to treat lupus has received a disproportionate amount of attention as a potential treatment for Covid-19. They therefore list several studies released so far on the use of hydroxychloroquine.
  • Politico (Paywall): EMA: Chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine carry serious risks. The EMA warned that both drugs can cause heart rhythm issues, especially when taken with other medicines like the antibiotic azithromycin. The drugs have been hyped as potential treatments to COVID-19 by personalities ranging from U.S. President Donald Trump to the celebrity French doctor Didier Raoult.
  • NBC News: ‘A race against time’: Results expected soon on experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir. The results of a highly anticipated study on an experimental coronavirus treatment for the sickest patients are expected any day. Physicians leading the clinical trial for the drug say the fast-moving pandemic has compelled them to work with haste, all without compromising the scientific rigor necessary to prove whether the drug really works.

Others

  • Reuters: European firms step up COVID-19 vaccines work, UK team starts human trials. Scientists in Britain began clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine (developed by the University of Oxford) on Thursday as other vaccine developers across Europe such as GSK, Sanofi and others also stepped up work on their own experimental shots against the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
  • New York Post: Possible coronavirus vaccine enters human testing trial at ‘unprecedented speed’. Inovio Pharmaceuticals, along with the University of Pennsylvania’s research facility and the Wistar Institute have been working on a vaccine which entered its crucial first phase of testing. Approximately 40 people will be tested during the initial clinical trial phase at locations in Kansas City and the University of Pennsylvania. Final results from the tests are expected by the summer.
  • The Motley Fool: Does British American Tobacco’s COVID-19 Vaccine Make It a Buy? The science behind plant-based vaccines, including those developed using tobacco plants, could offer the opportunity for quickly developed therapies. Big tobacco is now involved with the race to find a vaccine for COVID-19. For investors, this makes the tobacco giant once again an interesting stock to watch, especially during pandemic-era trading.

 FALSIFIED COVID-19 MEDICAL PRODUCTS

  • BBC: Caution urged over Madagascar’s ‘herbal cure’. The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is no proof of a cure for Covid-19 after Madagascar’s president launched a herbal coronavirus “cure”. The country’s national medical academy (Anamem) has also cast doubt on the efficacy of Andry Rajoelina’s (President of Madagascar) touted prevention and remedy.

 DIAGNOSTICS

  • Financial Times: Quest for accurate antibody tests in fight against Covid-19. The UK, Spain and other European countries are experiencing difficulties with antibody tests that should show whether individuals have acquired immunity from past infection, rejecting large numbers of antibody tests imported from Asia. In the US, the FDA has been criticised for allowing dozens of companies to sell unvalidated tests of dubious quality. The global scramble for antibody tests has triggered a huge effort by biotech and diagnostics companies. It mentions Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche stating “it is very easy to develop [antibody tests] but you have to validate them with enough patients”.
  • CNBC: Coronavirus saliva tests could be as accurate as or better than nasal swabs, Yale researchers say. A new study found that testing saliva for coronavirus infections gives results that are at least as accurate as nasal swabs, which are much more commonly used in COVID-19 screening.
  • Forbes: 25 Million Coronavirus Tests By April’s End, Device Makers Say. The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) Wednesday issued a projection that the medical device industry will have produced more than 25 million tests by the end of April. AdvaMed didn’t disclose which companies were producing tests but said the industry is focused on diagnostic tests that can be used to detect the virus.
  • Motley Fool: Quest Diagnostics to Double U.S. Coronavirus Testing Capacity by Mid-May. One of the US’s largest clinical laboratory operators, Quest Diagnostics says that by mid-May, it will have enough capacity to perform over 200,000 COVID-19 antibody tests per day.

MANUFACTURING

  • WSJ: Drugmakers Prepare to Make Coronavirus Treatments. Drugmakers are reconfiguring manufacturing plants and hiring hundreds of new workers to be ready to make coronavirus drugs and vaccines should they prove in testing to be effective in fighting off the virus.

EARNINGS & COVID-19

  • Investor’s Business Daily: Why The Coronavirus Pandemic Isn’t Shaking This Red-Hot Pharma Stock. For the first quarter ended March 31, adjusted Eli Lilly earnings were $1.75 a share on $5.86 billion in sales. On a year-over-year basis, revenue climbed 15% and earnings popped 32%. Sales in the quarter were boosted by about $250 million by increased customer buying and prescriptions trends due to Covid.

 EPIDEMIOLOGY

WHO – Daily COVID-19 update, 23 April

No media briefing by Dr Tedros today.

 WHO EURO: Invest in the overlooked and unsung: build sustainable people-centred long-term care in the wake of COVID-19. Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe stated that any steps to ease social and physical distancing measures must be carefully considered and gradually undertaken. The public must understand the inherent risks as governments, understandably, try to release the steam building up in societies and pressing our respective economies. He further stated that across the European Region, long-term care has often been notoriously neglected. Looking to the future, transitioning to a new normal, there should be a clear investment case for setting up integrated, person-centred long-term care systems in each country.

WHO AFRO: COVID-19 in Africa: joint media briefing with WHO and WEF. Dr Moeti Tshidi, Regional Director of WHO Afro stated that she praised Nigeria’s strong leadership, private sector partnerships, and scaling-up of key public health measures. She stated that on the African continent there are now more than 23,000 confirmed cases with South Africa remaining the most affected country with 3300 cases. She particularly raised concerns about increases in cases in some countries in West-Africa and Tanzania. She stated that they continue to urge governments to follow the data and work in ways that are evidence-based.

NEW WHO RESOURCES

 WHO: An international randomised trial of candidate vaccines against COVID-19.

  • This large, international, randomized controlled clinical trial is designed to enable an expeditious, agile and concurrent evaluation of the benefits and risks of multiple candidate preventive vaccines against COVID-19 at international sites with sufficient COVID-19 attack rates. Different candidate vaccines may be available or suitable to enter the trial at different times; for each candidate vaccine, the primary efficacy results are expected within 3-6 months of the vaccine entering the trial.
  • The trial is powered to provide sufficient evidence of safety and vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 to support decision-making about global vaccine deployment.