LONDON – The U.K. government has accepted the recommendation of medical experts and will begin the rollout of COVID-19 boosters from next week, using mRNA vaccines only. That follows data from the U.K. Cov-Boost trial, looking at combinations of initial and booster doses. The results showed Pfizer Inc./Biontech SE’s and Moderna Inc.’s products generated the best immune responses, regardless of which vaccine was administered initially.
LONDON – Health data specialist Sensyne Health plc is opening up broader access to its U.S./U.K. patient information system with the launch of a subscription service giving accredited users the ability to interrogate more than 2 million longitudinal electronic health records. At an annual cost of £25,000 (US$34,602) per head, the company will provide “industrial scale” access to anonymized hospital records “to the smallest company or to a single researcher working in academe,” through the new Sensight service, said Paul Drayson, CEO.
Shares in France’s vaccine specialist Valneva SA were sharply down after the U.K. government tore up a contract to supply 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, codenamed VLA-2001. Until today, Valneva was one of the largest COVID-19 vaccine contractors with the U.K. government, which got its orders early in the pandemic. Valneva was supposed to be supplying 100 million doses of its inactivated virus vaccine to the U.K., which had an option on a further 90 million shots.
It was a busy week for the U.K.’s drugs regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), which fast tracked decisions on novel drugs for cancer and eczema and made a ruling on booster COVID-19 jabs from Astrazeneca plc and Pfizer Inc. But even as Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his support over the approval of Amgen Inc.’s cancer drug Lumykras, there are questions over the future of the regulator as it faces a round of job cuts because of a lack of funding following Brexit.
Locate Bio Ltd. has closed a £10 million (US$13.8 million) funding round co-led by investors Mercia Asset Management and BGF to advance its orthobiologics product pipeline. The Nottingham, U.K.-based startup, which spun out from the University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy, is hoping to disrupt the orthobiologics market with its drug releasing, bone grafting products.
The European Commission and Astrazeneca plc have ended their legal row over COVID-19 vaccines, while also reaching an agreement over supplies of remaining shots to Europe. The settlement brings to an end an unseemly row over vaccine supply, which further soured relations between the EU and U.K. following Brexit.
LONDON – Conflicting data from around the world on the extent to which the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 is reducing the effectiveness of vaccines is generating uncertainty over the need, or not, for booster programs.
The board of rare disease specialist Swedish Orphan Biovitrum AB has accepted a takeover bid from the U.S. private equity firm Advent International and Aurora Investment, an affiliate of capital markets group GIC, valuing it at about SEK69.4 billion (US$8 billion).
LONDON – One in seven children and young people who have COVID-19 go on to develop symptoms of Long COVID, according to the first cut of data from a large national study involving 6,804 participants ages 11 to 17 who had PCR tests between January and March this year.
Samsung Bioepis Co. Ltd. has emerged as the first company to obtain marketing authorization from the EMA for a biosimilar of Lucentis (ranibizumab), a significant development for the Korean biosimilar specialist. The approval comes less than two months after the company received a positive opinion from the EMA’s CHMP for Byooviz (ranibizumab), formerly called SB-11.