The climate crisis in the time of COVID-19 illustrates the difference between the important and the urgent. There is, of course, no alternative to focusing on the current pandemic. But at the same time, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has not changed the fact that the climate crisis is a coming wave whose health consequences will ultimately dwarf those of any single infectious agent.
DUBLIN – Can an investigational drug best known for reducing itch in dermatitis patients really lower the risk of COVID-19 patients progressing to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)? It might seem like a stretch, even in the midst of a pandemic, but New York’s largest health care provider, Manhasset-based Northwell Health, appears sufficiently convinced by the biological rationale to get behind a phase III trial of tradipitant, a neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptor blocker, which Washington-based Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. is already testing in phase III trials in atopic dermatitis, gastroparesis and motion sickness.
DUBLIN – Sanofi SA and Glaxosmithkline plc are lending their considerable weight to the urgent global effort to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 by teaming up to develop an adjuvanted recombinant subunit vaccine that will employ technologies from each company. Paris-based Sanofi is contributing its recombinant spike protein antigen and its baculovirus expression system, which is also the basis of its U.S.-licensed influenza vaccine Flublok. London-based GSK is contributing its pandemic adjuvant technology.
In order to redirect health care resources and protect patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, many drug companies have paused enrollment in some or all of their ongoing clinical trials. But patients still in the studies need to be followed for safety and efficacy, creating challenges for the industry.
DUBLIN – At the best of times, drug development is, of course, a complex problem. It is all the more demanding still in the middle of a pandemic, when the threat to human life is increasing exponentially, and health care systems are buckling under an extraordinary burden. Optimizing the development of drugs and vaccines in order to quickly generate high-quality evidence of their safety and efficacy is, therefore, a critical task, but an online webinar organized by the drug development consultants Certara LP, in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, suggested that, at this stage of the crisis, that lesson has yet to be absorbed.
“Vaccines, obviously, are the ultimate solution for pandemics,” Rino Rappuoli told BioWorld. They have, he added, “already eliminated a lot of pandemic threats – smallpox, influenza, poliomyelitis.” And the road to normalcy from the current pandemic, or any pandemic, is likely to be open only once there is a vaccine.