Gates Foundation in ‘unprecedented’ coronavirus partnership with industry
After the Bill & Melinda Gates, the Wellcome Trust and Mastercard came together to form the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, the newly-founded organization quickly created a partnership with 15 companies across the industry.
The companies include some of the largest pharma companies in the business, including Novartis, Merck (known as MSD outside of the US and Canada), Pfizer, Sanofi, J&J, and Eli Lilly, among other companies of similar scale.
CEO of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, who will take the lead as co-chair of the consortium of companies, stated “collective action is critical to ensure any promising studies into vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics are quickly scaled to people around the world who are affected by this pandemic.”
The first action the companies have taken is to share their proprietary libraries of molecular compounds with the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The accelerator will now work to screen them for potential use against the virus.
The organization stated that, if they showed potential, then these could be moved into in vitro trials within two months, with the aim to develop vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments in response to the pandemic.
CEO of the Gates Foundation, Mark Suzman, called the partnership ‘unprecedented’, and that work done could ‘dramatically accelerate’ any potential product development and scale up.
In an example of how quickly the industry can move in a crisis, the collaboration was agreed over a conference call earlier in the month and the libraries of compounds were shared two weeks ago.
In terms of where the industry could help, the Gates Foundation stated that any products demonstrating efficacy would need clinical study, scale up of manufacturing and distribution – areas that the largest pharma companies are specialized in.
Suzman outlined the aim is “to see if we can help flatten the curve of this pandemic and make sure the results reach everyone around the world, particularly those at highest risk and the poorest.”