COVID-19 changed the world. Here’s how the world’s collaborating to beat it.

April 2, 2020
Today, we let our international affairs team take over Good Day BIO, to share a little bit about some of BIO’s important international work on COVID-19 and how BIO members are working with companies around the world on vaccines and treatments. (Read through to the end…
BIO

Today, we let our international affairs team take over Good Day BIO, to share a little bit about some of BIO’s important international work on COVID-19 and how BIO members are working with companies around the world on vaccines and treatments. (Read through to the end to get to more news from the United States, too.) Here are 830 words, or 4 minutes, 10 seconds.

COVID-19 changed the world. Here’s how the world’s collaborating to beat it.

COVID-19 has now reached more than 200 countries. If we want to beat it, international collaboration is critical. Today, we're taking a look at how BIO members have been working with companies in other countries to find treatments and vaccines.

ICYMI: BIO works internationally. Working with our sister organization the International Council of Biotech Associations (ICBA), a coalition of biotechnology trade associations around the world, we work to advance global rules, norms, and IP rights for BIO members and promote the benefits of biotech innovation globally. 

This international collaboration is more important than ever—because COVID-19 affects everyone, everywhere. 

Luckily, a lot of this work is already happening—and today, we’re highlighting a few important developments on the global stage. 

First, let’s look at China. BIO members have been working with Chinese companies on vaccines, tapping into China’s data and knowledge as the place where the virus first emerged. 

Inovio Biopharmaceuticals Inc. has been collaborating with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Co. to advance the development of Inovio’s vaccine, running parallel Phase I clinical trials in the United States and China, with the shared goal of speeding up testing and delivery. 

BIO member Inovio previously made significant progress on MERS, Ebola, and Zika. The companies hope to begin COVID-19 trials this month. 

Similarly, BIO member iBio, Inc. is working with Beijing CC-Pharming Ltd. to develop a vaccine utilizing iBio’s FastPharming System, which uses a relative of the tobacco plant as the “bioreactor,” as well as CC-Pharming’s experience with MERS. 

This is truly biotech at its best. “The FastPharming Technology has been used to produce antibody candidates for Ebola and Dengue fever viruses, while human and animal studies have been completed for vaccine candidates, including yellow fever virus, human papilloma virus, seasonal influenza and avian influenza,” they said

What they’re saying: “This is an important collaboration to develop plant-derived vaccine strategies for the emerging coronavirus outbreak here in China, and around the world. iBio’s capabilities will enhance our ability to rapidly scale-up vaccine candidate production in an effort to combat the 2019-nCoV virus’ threat to global health,” explained CC-Pharming Chair and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Kevin Wang. 

Now, we want to head to Germany—another global innovation hub, not far from some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe. 

BIO member Pfizer is working with BioNTech, a German company researching new kinds of immunotherapy treatments, which is ALSO aligned with Fosun, a Chinese company. 

Why this collaboration matters: It brings together “one of the largest and most established players in the realm of pharmaceutical biotech with a younger company working at the forefront of mRNA-based immune therapies,” said TechCrunch.

They also expect to start a trial in April—which is possible because “both parties aren’t starting from scratch in terms of their work on mRNA-based vaccines: they began working together on R&D to create treatments for the flu starting in 2018.” 

And collaboration is happening on this side of the pond, too, between BIO member Eli Lilly and Abcellera, a Canadian company that’s already identified more than 500 human antibodies as possible candidates for development as a COVID-19 treatment.

Joe’s World: This is an unprecedented time, for the biotech industry and the world. If we want to beat this virus, the world needs to come together, to share science and data, to help one another and share critical supplies and discoveries, and streamline regulations. Even if it’s necessary to halt travel or stay in our homes, it’s more important than ever to ensure resources continue to flow across borders. The world is depending on the biotech industry, and everyone in the global industry has a role to play. – Joe Damond, BIO’s Executive Vice President for International Affairs

For more information on our international collaborative efforts, visit www.internationalbiotech.org.

For more information on what BIO and our members are doing to fight COVID-19, visit www.bio.org/coronavirus.

 

More Health Care News: 

Biopharma Dive: Drugmakers await reckoning as doctors, patients make tough choices during pandemic
“Drugmakers, their hand forced by overwhelmed hospitals, are halting or delaying clinical trials. Development timelines are now at risk of changing, as companies tighten their budgets or redirect resources to priority projects.”

MIT Technology Review: Why I am volunteering to get the coronavirus vaccine
“The first step, under way now, is a safety trial to make sure the vaccine isn’t dangerous and that it provokes an immune response. In March, 45 people were asked to volunteer at a Kaiser Permanente facility in Seattle.” 

Reuters: Vir and Alnylam expand collaboration to advance investigational RNAi therapeutics targeting host factors for the treatment of COVID-19
“This expansion includes up to three additional targets focused on host factors for SARS-CoV-2, including ACE2 and TMPRSS2, both of which are considered critical for viral entry, with the potential for an additional host target to emerge from Vir’s functional genomics work,” according to the press release.

 

More Agriculture & Environment News:

CNN: British American Tobacco is trying to make a coronavirus vaccine
“British American Tobacco (BTAFF) said Wednesday that its biotech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing, is working on a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus that can be produced in lab-grown plants closely related to tobacco.”

 
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President Trump’s Thursday: The Coronavirus Task Force is scheduled to hold a press briefing at 5pm ET.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Coronavirus recess until April 20, though they continue to work remotely.

 
 
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