LONDON – Exevir Bio NV added a further €15 million (US$17.9 million) to close its series A round at €42 million, providing the means to take its nanobody therapy for treating COVID-19 infection through to registration.
As expected, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) looked favorably upon the latest COVID-19 entry: Ad26.COV2.S, a one-shot product that emerged from the same Johnson & Johnson (J&J) platform, AdVac, that let the firm devise an Ebola vaccine cleared in Europe last year.
Lexagene Holdings Inc. has successfully configured its Miqlab system to detect the U.K. and South African variants of SARS-CoV-2. The open-access point-of-care system can simultaneously screen for multiple respiratory pathogens and identify COVID-19 strains. Lexagene started studies to support its filing for U.S. FDA emergency use authorization (EUA) in late December 2020. If authorized, it would be the first open-access point-of-care (POC) device to gain an EUA.
LONDON – The EU is taking concerted action to detect new variants of SARS-CoV-2, investing €225 million (US$270 million) to increase viral genome sequencing to 5% of positive cases across Europe, and to carry out research on their evolution and transmissibility.
Governments across the globe are struggling to keep pace with the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s impact on public health, but the new variants are presenting their own challenges. The next task facing governments across the globe is to sequence the latest mutated variants of the virus and keep track of any further mutations, all while validating new and revamped existing tests, a task that is likely to prove difficult to meet for at least the next few months.
As COVID-19 variants have emerged, so have questions about the effectiveness of tests for infection. While the risk of mutations significantly limiting their ability to detect the novel coronavirus is thought to be relatively low, companies that make COVID-19 tests are moving quickly to enhance and revalidate their products.
By mid-January 2021, the U.K., South Africa and Brazil had confirmed that “variants of concern” were driving massive surges in COVID-19 cases in their countries. Once alerted, other nations found these troubling strains rapidly multiplying within their populations as well. At the time, the world had reported 90 million cases, creating abundant opportunities for the coronavirus to mutate. Of those cases, the virus in just 360,000 had been sequenced – and nearly all of them from just a handful of countries.
As of the end of January, SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrably infected more than 100 million individuals globally. It has killed more than 2 million. And the long-term sequelae of COVID infections – to say nothing of the health consequences of grief, social isolation and widespread economic distress – are still unfolding and will be for years to come.