Feb 12, 2020 - Health

NIH has no big drug manufacturer on board to make its coronavirus vaccine

Anthony Fauci speaks at a Feb. 7 press conference on coronavirus developments. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A leading U.S. health official said Tuesday it's "very frustrating" that no major drug firm has yet offered to make a vaccine against the novel coronavirus that the National Institutes of Health is helping develop, STAT News reports.

Why it matters: When outbreaks of new worrisome pathogens start, governments may immediately start working on diagnostics, vaccines and treatments, but they also need a buy-in from drug companies that sometimes get burned if the outbreak suddenly peters out or the drug isn't successful.

Details: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci said on a panel hosted by STAT and the Aspen Institute that it'd take "at least a year" before a coronavirus vaccine could become available — and that's assuming a pharmaceutical manufacturing giant were to produce the product.

  • Fauci noted that although the NIH had partnered with Moderna to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, a large manufacturer would be needed to "take on the risky venture of manufacturing the product if it is successful in human testing," according to an S&P Global report of the panel discussion.
  • "The companies that have the skill to be able to do it ... [are] going to have to stop making polio vaccines, measles vaccines, hepatitis vaccines to put your particular product in," Fauci said, per S&P Global.

The big picture: Several U.S. pharmaceutical firms have said they're working on their own vaccines against the new coronavirus, which has killed over 1,1100 people and infected more than 45,000 others — mostly in mainland China. These include Inovio, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, according to the State Department.

What they're saying: Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies would "further expedite its investigational coronavirus vaccine program" in collaboration with HHS'' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

  • "This partnership will ensure that vital research is made possible at rapid speed and underscores the importance of public-private partnerships to tackle the worldwide novel coronavirus epidemic," Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement.
  • "We are also in discussions with other partners, that if we have a vaccine candidate with potential, we aim to make it accessible to China and other parts of the world."

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Experimental coronavirus vaccine to be tested on humans

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The vaccine that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and drugmaker Moderna have been developing to combat the coronavirus is ready to be tested on humans, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told the Wall Street Journal.

The state of play: The rapidly developed vaccine will be tested on 20–25 healthy volunteers in April to determine whether two doses will be safe and generate an immune response to protect against infection. Results will be available in July or August, Fauci told WSJ.

Go deeperArrowFeb 24, 2020 - Health

Trump administration asks Congress for $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus

President Trump with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the White House in September. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Details: The request for the Department of Health and Human Services includes $1.25 billion in new funds to fight COVID-19 and the transfer of $535 million from untouched funds for the Ebola virus.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus vaccines in development aren't a short-term cure

Coronavirus under a microscope. Photo: BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

There are a dozen research projects underway to try to come up with a vaccine for the Chinese coronavirus, Biocentury reports.

What's new: Drug maker Sanofi Pasteur is entering the race to develop a vaccine by partnering with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority — known as BARDA, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 18, 2020 - Health