Daily Management Review

Long Way To Go For Coronavirus Vaccine, Say Drgumakers


Long Way To Go For Coronavirus Vaccine, Say Drgumakers
There is a long way to go for finding a vaccine or effective treatment for the deadly new coronavirusm, cautioned drugmakers who are trying to find a cure for the virus.
That caution was in contrast to reports of a supposed “breakthrough” for treating the coronavirus appearing on Wednesday which had a positive impact on the financial markets and created optimism for a claim that did not necessarily have any scientific support.
Work on finding vaccines or anti-virals and other treatments that can help cure the people affected by the virus is being carried out by at least a dozen drugmakers. Reports quoting executives from companies involved in the effort claimed that it could be at least more than a year till any vaccine or medicine or treatment for the virus is approved – even at an accelerated pace, with the entire process costing nothing less than $800 million.
“It will take at least 12 to 18 months, which means in the acute situation we are in now — at least in China — that will not create a benefit,” said Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine unit. GSK is currently coordinating with the developers of the vaccines and has reached out to them with a technology that could increase the potency of their vaccines.
More than 500 people have killed in China because of the virus that first emerged in December last year and is still spreading within China and elsewhere in the world. New confirmed cases of infection are being reported virtually every day from China – particularly from central China’s Hubei province. The World Health Organization declared the virus outbreak a global risk after it spread to at least 27 countries and regions. It is this fast pace of spreading that has caused panic across the world.
Typically, there is faster approval of a drug that is developed for treatment of people who are already suffering from the disease for which the treatment is developed instead of drugs or treatments for disease that has to be tested on healthy people. Despite this, reports said, there are enough logistical and regulatory challenges that can delay the approval and the commercial application of any treatment that is developed. 
“There is a distinction there between a therapeutic and a vaccine. Having said that, I think it is true that this won’t be superfast and it will involve us investing at risk right now,” said Gilead Chief Medical Officer Merdad Parsey.
Parsey acknowledged that the time required for clinical trials for vaccine sis much larger than those for treatments for diseases such as the coronavirus.
One of the major challenge is to first ensure that the treatments and drugs developed are good to combat a disease and then to scale up production to meet commercial demands. A limited supply of remdesivir, which had failed in trials as a treatment for Ebola, remained with Gilead as the company prepares to try out the drug against coronavirus.
In the past there have been modest benefits from the use of anti-viral in treatments for such emergencies, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, who was director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when the deadly MERS virus turned into an outbreak.