HONG KONG – The Biden administration’s support for a TRIPS waiver of COVID-19 vaccine patents has already met a chorus of resistance from Western companies. In Asia, skepticism about how it would be achieved and what it will cover, is widespread.
HONG KONG – Celltrion Inc. has received the European CE mark for Tekitrust, its COVID-19 tests kit developed with Mico Biomed Co. Ltd. “Mico, which is a diagnostic device specialist, partnered with Celltrion to combine both companies’ strengths in the test kit sector,” a Celltrion spokesperson told BioWorld. Mico will manufacture the kits, while Celltrion handles marketing and sales.
HONG KONG – Laboring under the burden of a new wave of COVID-19 infections that have raised its case total to 15.3 million, second only to the U.S., India is ramping up its vaccination efforts by opening up COVID-19 vaccine availability to citizens 18 years or older from May 1, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. However, ensuring a steady vaccine supply for the world's second most populous country, with nearly 1.4 billion people, might prove to be an issue. So far, India has administered just over 124 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Kintor Pharmaceutical Ltd. said its androgen receptor (AR) antagonist, proxalutamide, reduced mortality risk by 92% and shortened median hospital length stay by nine days vs. standard of care, based on a preliminary analysis of phase III data from 590 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Brazil. The company expects to have final data ready by the end of this month or early April, Chief Financial Officer Lucy Lu told BioWorld.
HONG KONG – China is steadily greenlighting more COVID-19 vaccines and drugs to go deeper into the clinic, giving the country a growing arsenal against the disease. To date, China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) has approved a handful of drugs and 16 domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine candidates for trials, up from 11 in September 2020.
Another monoclonal antibody therapy has entered the pandemic fray with the FDA granting emergency use authorization (EUA) for bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) 700 mg and etesevimab (JS016 or LY-CoV016) 1,400 mg as a cocktail for treating mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients aged 12 and up at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.
HONG KONG – A Japanese phase III study of Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.’s interleukin-6 inhibitor Actemra (tocilizumab) in patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 pneumonia has read out, expanding what’s known about the drug’s use in the pandemic, which had been inconclusive until recently, though is now known to reduce mortality in the vulnerable population.
HONG KONG – Shortly after Australia’s recent provisional approval for the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty (tozinameran), originally developed by Pfizer Inc. and Biontech SE, Hong Kong has approved it, too, for emergency use ahead of rivals developed in mainland China. It is the first vaccine to be approved in the Chinese territory, made possible through a collaboration between Biontech and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. Ltd.
HONG KONG – India’s conditional approval on Jan. 3 of a COVID-19 vaccine developed domestically by Bharat Biotech International Ltd. but still in phase III trials has sparked concerns about its safety. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gave emergency authorization to the product, Covaxin, along with the Astrazeneca plc and Oxford University vaccine Covishield. The DCGI said the conditional approval granting “restricted use in emergency situation” for Covaxin was done in “clinical trial mode” to account for the fact that the shot is still being tested. But the rush to approve it has created controversy and confusion.
LONDON – The COVAX initiative, set up in a bid to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, is poised for a global rollout starting in Q1 2021, after sealing agreements to access 2 billion doses of a number of different products. That puts the world on a clear pathway to ending the acute phase of the pandemic, by protecting the most vulnerable people around the world, according to GAVI, the vaccines alliance, which is spearheading COVAX.