LONDON – The COVID-19 outbreak appears to be sliding toward pandemic status, with the virus spreading to four more countries and confirmed cases and deaths mounting in infection hotspots in Italy, Iran and South Korea.
LONDON – Six weeks on from the initial alert, “the window of opportunity” to control the COVID-19 epidemic is “narrowing,” according to the latest assessment from World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Infectious disease has been rough going for all comers the past few years, as companies have floundered. Appili Therapeutics Inc.’s CEO, Armand Balboni saw the troubles others encountered with the indication and also saw companies with thin pipelines struggle, but it hasn’t stopped him from forging on.
BEIJING – Chinese biotech companies are focusing on fighting the novel coronavirus, now named as COVID-19 by the WHO, after the country’s government called for all possible assistance. With its Trimer-Tag technology, Chengdu-based Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc. is among the first to reveal production of a vaccine candidate against COVID-19.
PERTH, Australia – As of Feb. 12, Australia’s Department of Health confirmed 15 cases of novel coronavirus in Australia (five in Queensland, four in New South Wales, four in Victoria and two in South Australia). Of the confirmed 15 cases, five people have recovered and the others are in stable condition.
LONDON – As the death toll passed 1,000 and the number of confirmed cases reached 42,000, the World Health Organization on Feb. 11 convened 400 scientists at a global research and innovation forum to draw up an R&D blueprint for “pathogen X,” now officially named COVID-19.
The drug screens prompted by the SARS and MERS outbreaks have been useful for quickly identifying drug candidates. But in terms of their epidemiology, “SARS and MERS were different from this coronavirus,” Allison McGeer explained at a Feb. 3 webinar by Evercore ISI.
Modest revenue growth and a 2020 outlook that left analysts uninspired about its near-term prospects pushed Gilead Sciences Inc. shares (NASDAQ:GILD) down about 2% to close Feb. 5 at $65.87, despite growing sales of its HIV medicine, Biktarvy (bictegravir, emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide), and what CEO Daniel O'Day called "a sense of urgency" around further business development.
At this very early point in the emerging 2019-nCoV outbreak, knowledge about the virus is insufficient to predict what shape that outbreak will ultimately take. But knowledge about the virus is accumulating at remarkable speed, and experience with other viruses is helping to shape the response to the newest coronavirus threat. 2019-nCoV, sometimes called Wuhan coronavirus after its source, is the third coronavirus after SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV with the potential to cause serious illness and death that has emerged since the beginning of the 21st century.