The share price of Moderna is up 6% compared to the end of last week, at the time of writing, as the market reacted to the news that Phase I trials for its mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 were a success.
Only a few days prior, Oxford University was able to post results showing that its vaccine promoted an immune response in rhesus macaques, leading to further investment by the UK government to prepare for large-scale manufacture.
As such, progress towards finding a viable vaccine against the novel coronavirus is building steam; however, it has been widely suggested that no single vaccine will be sufficient and even these could take into next year, or longer, to be delivered to populations.
In the meantime, as well as multiple vaccines being needed, one CEO told BioPharma-Reporter that multiple therapies will also be necessary to ensure patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 can be effectively treated.
As a result, the progression of a pipeline with numerous treatments and vaccines is more important than ever.
To keep an eye on how this is progressing, BIO created a therapeutic development tracker.
At the current time of writing, there are 463 unique compounds in development against COVID-19, which is broken down as 202 treatments, 144 antivirals, and 117 vaccines. In terms of development, 313 of these are preclinical compounds and 150 are in the clinic.
There has been an explosion of compounds being investigated for COVID-19 since the seriousness of the pandemic became apparent. As of the end of January, there were just 11 candidates under investigation – three antivirals and eight vaccines.
By March, this had just jumped to 211 drug candidates, which then doubled again in April, to 411.
The surge in potential treatment and antiviral candidates did not arrive overnight – the tracker reveals that 93% of treatments had been redirected or repurposed towards COVID-19, with 47% of antivirals also being retooled in the same way. For vaccines, it is a different story: fully 97% of vaccines were specifically created against COVID-19.
Provenance of research
The tracker also provides information about where the therapies have been developed, through identifying where the companies involved have their headquarters.
Given the US’ position as a hub both for R&D and as a market, it should be no surprise that it currently holds the highest number of therapies. With 229 drug candidates, companies headquartered in the US hold just under half of the entire pipeline.
The next largest home is where the first instance of the virus was discovered, in China – the country currently has 35 therapies in the works.
Beyond this, there are numerous further candidates spread across Europe, with the UK (20), Switzerland (23), Germany (18), and France (12) having double-digit numbers in the pipeline.