LONDON – The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global collaboration to accelerate development and production of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, with leaders of countries around the world appearing live to pledge their support.
An April 15 U.S. FDA stakeholder call revisited several themes of interest in connection with diagnostics for the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Tim Stenzel, director of the agency’s Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health, said that while the agency has not yet authorized a home sample collection kit, “we do think it’s going to happen very soon.”
The age of molecular testing for the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, but the emphasis in the months ahead will be on serological testing as a quicker, more useful mass testing alternative. However, test developers have a number of hurdles to overcome in devising these serological tests, including that antibodies for the virus’s antigens emerge at different times in the disease cycle, just one of several challenges that have to be met in the effort to bring the SARS-CoV-2 virus to heel.
Stony Brook Medicine has launched an FDA-approved, randomized investigational new drug (IND) trial to determine whether plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 can aid in the recovery of patients currently fighting the disease. Chembio Diagnostics Inc.'s COVID-19 rapid serological point-of-care test will be used to identify potential plasma donors.
LONDON – These are hardly times for a fanfare, but this month saw the unveiling of a new name in bioprocessing, following the formal closing of the $21.4 billion sale of GE Healthcare’s Life Sciences to Danaher Corp. The business, now renamed Cytiva, has turnover of $3.3 billion, nearly 7,000 employees and operations in 40 countries. More than 75% of FDA-approved biologic drugs use its products in their manufacture.
There will be lessons learned aplenty when the COVID-19 pandemic finally breaks, including how serological and molecular testing can be used to maximum effect to corral a future pandemic. Carmen Wiley, president of the American Association of Clinical Chemistry, told BioWorld that the existing instrument types are up to the job, but that surge capacity is needed, and that it is not clear how the cost of that capacity will be handled.
The stimulus bill passed by the U.S. Senate March 26 on a vote of 96-0 does more than throw $2.2 trillion into the war against COVID-19. “This is not … a stimulus package. It is emergency relief,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor before the vote.
The pressure is rising on the Trump administration to activate the Defense Production Act (DPA) for the COVID-19 outbreak as the Senate yet again reconsiders an economic stimulus package. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) unveiled the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act in an effort to force the White House to mandate the production of needed supplies, a bill that is likely to languish until Congress can move on economic relief legislation.
Business as usual only three months ago has transformed into health care industry overdrive as biopharma and med-tech companies scramble to test and scale-up treatments, vaccines and diagnostics to address COVID-19.