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Sanofi and GSK set aside rivalry with "unprecedented" COVID-19 vaccine partnership

Usual rivals Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have said they are to put aside competition with the forging of a new “unprecedented collaboration” in the pursuit of an adjuvanted vaccine against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership will leverage Sanofi’s S-protein COVID-19 antigen, which utilises recombinant DNA technology to genetically duplicate the proteins found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This DNA sequence encoding has been combined with the same baculovirus expression platform the company uses in its approved recombinant influenza products.

US to review its funding of the World Health Organization

Photo by Gage Skidmore

US President Donald Trump has announced the US may stop funding the World Health Organization due to allegations that they covered up the spread of the pandemic.

AstraZeneca to pit blood cancer drug Calquence against COVID-19 with the company's fastest-ever trial launch

As the R&D race against COVID-19 continues, AstraZeneca is poised to launch a global, multicentre clinical trial to test its approved blood cancer drug Calquence (acalabrutinib) in the treatment of exaggerated immune response, also known as a cytokine storm, in patients severely ill with life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms, with the goal of ultimately reducing mortality and necessity of assisted ventilation.

Gilead's promising COVID-19 drug remdesivir shows benefit in 68% of hospitalised patients

Gilead has provided an update on its ongoing efforts against the novel coronavirus, revealing data from a cohort analysis of its antiviral therapy remdesivir, one of the most promising treatments for patients hospitalised by COVID-19.

The findings, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, were drawn from 53 participants hospitalised due to severe complications with COVID-19, 34 of which were being treated with mechanical ventilation at baseline, including four patients who were also receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

Pharmafile.com's weekly COVID-19 news round-up

Image credit: CDC

The world looks for a coronavirus cure as Inovio begins human trials for a vaccine while another vaccine is in development at British American Tobacco. Donald Trump continues to tout the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating the virus and threatens India after they shut down exports of the drug, and Martin Shkreli has asked to be furloughed from prison to help develop a treatment of his own.

US reports increase in Hydroxychloroquine misuse

Photo by Joegoauk Goa

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) has said there has been an increase in people abusing the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, after being touted by President Donald Trump as a coronavirus treatment.

Since Trump first mentioned the drug on 19 March, there have been 76 cases of hydroxychloroquine abuse compared to 35 during this same period last year. 77% of these cases were non-toxic meaning most patients taking the drug inappropriately were not poisoned. 

COVID-19 less severe in paediatric patients, according to the CDC

Photo by Read Mansour

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that COVID-19 is less severe in children than adults.

The report, called Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children, showed that fewer children with coronavirus where hospitalised. The report also shows that children were far less likely to show symptoms but they still can become seriously ill and hospitalised.

Critics say Trump pushing hydroxychloroquine due to his financial ties to manufacturers

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Critics are arguing that President Donald Trump is touting the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment because he has financial links to a manufacturers of the drug.

The New York Times reported that each of Trump’s three family trusts had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund. This type of fund is a portfolio that pools together money from several investors and invests the capital across various assets like stocks and bonds.

Inovio’s coronavirus vaccine, funded by Bill Gates, begins human trials

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II

Inovio’s coronavirus vaccine has entered human trials after the FDA approved its application to begin them under the Investigational New Drug program. The research has been partly funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The FDA approval comes after promising results in animal testing. The INO-4800 DNA vaccine began being used in trials on Monday, with 40 volunteers receiving their first dose, which will be followed by a second in four weeks’ time.

Martin Shkreli asks to be furloughed from prison to work on COVID-19 treatments

Photo by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Disgraced biotech entrepreneur Martin Shkreli, also known as the ‘Pharma Bro’, is asking for a brief furlough from prison to spend time working on a treatment for COVID-19.

Shkreli is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for securities fraud at Allenwood Penitentiary.

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