Unprecedented collaboration in the fight against COVID-19

Posted on April 8, 2020

A global pandemic of unprecedented proportions demands an unprecedented coordinated global response. As the world grapples with COVID-19, IMC’s 40 member companies are joining together with multilateral institutions and governments around the world to facilitate research and development to find effective treatments for the disease, and a vaccine to prevent its spread.

Partnerships are key to speeding up the R&D process. Since the pandemic began, there has been unprecedented collaboration across government, academia, the private and philanthropic sectors to discover, develop and deliver new medicines and vaccines for COVID-19.

Here are just two such examples:

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations launched to develop vaccines and stop epidemics. CEPI is funded by governments, including Canada, Norway, Germany, Japan, the UK, Ethiopia, Australia, Belgium, and the European Commission, as well as major philanthropic organizations such as the Wellcome Trust, and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.

The goal of CEPI is to dramatically reduce the time it takes to develop vaccines for emerging epidemics and ensure that they are accessible and affordable.

The speed with which companies have begun working on a vaccine for COVID-19 is a result, in part, of CEPI. To date, CEPI has initiated eight vaccine development projects against COVID-19. CEPI funding is supporting the preclinical testing, initial manufacture of vaccine materials, and preparatory work for phase 1 studies that are being conducted by researchers around the world.

IMC member GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is collaborating with CEPI by sharing their pandemic vaccine adjuvant platform technology to enhance the development of an effective vaccine. An adjuvant is an additive used in some vaccines to enhance the body’s immune response, thereby creating a stronger and longer lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone. The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it can reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced, and therefore contributing to the protection of more people.

COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator

A number of IMC members and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced an important collaboration to accelerate the development, manufacture and delivery of vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for COVID-19.

Fifteen companies, including Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi, have agreed to share their proprietary libraries of molecular compounds that already have some degree of safety and activity data with the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.

The aim of the Accelerator is to do for treatments what CEPI does for vaccines: bring pharmaceutical companies and expert academic institutions into coordinated research programs to identify the most promising molecules that could be used to treat cases of COVID-19. By quickly screening these molecules for their potential usage against COVID-19, the most promising candidates can be identified and quickly moved to in vivo trials in as little as two months.

These are only two of a multitude of initiatives between industry, governments and the global research community to fund research and development for vaccines and treatment against COVID-19. The pharmaceutical industry brings a wide range of assets, resources, and expertise needed to identify effective and scalable solutions to combat the virus. We are committed to partnering with governments and institutions around the world to bring safe and effective treatments and vaccines to patients so that together we can eradicate COVID-19.

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