Coronavirus company news summary - Exscientia partners with Gates Foundation on infectious disease research - Novavax starts trial of combined Covid-19/influenza vaccine
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Coronavirus company news summary – Exscientia partners with Gates Foundation on infectious disease research – Novavax starts trial of combined Covid-19/influenza vaccine

09 Sep 2021

UK-based Exscientia has entered a four-year $70m partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics against multiple viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. The initial focus will be on broad-spectrum agents targeting coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, as well as MERS. The partnership will later extend to develop drugs for influenza and Nipah. Exscientia’s AI-driven drug discovery platform will be used to discover and develop five Phase I-ready small-molecule candidates, the partners said.

Novavax has started enrolment in a Phase I/II clinical trial to assess the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of a vaccine that combines its Covid-19 and seasonal influenza vaccines. The trial will enroll 640 healthy adults aged 50 to 70 years at up to 12 sites in Australia. Participants must have had prior Covid-19 infection or be vaccinated with an authorised vaccine. Trial data are expected to be available in the first half of next year.

Moderna has signed a multi-year agreement for National Resilience to manufacture drug substance for its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine. The production will be carried out at Resilience’s facility in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. The Resilience-manufactured substance will be distributed globally. Moderna’s deal with Resilience follows a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Government to boost the country’s mRNA manufacturing and enable direct access to rapid pandemic response expertise.

The European Medicines Agency has listed Guillain-Barré syndrome, a very rare nerve disorder, as a potential side effect of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, Reuters reported. A causal relationship between the disorder and the vaccine is “at least a reasonable possibility,” the agency said. By 31 July 2021, 833 Guillain-Barré syndrome cases were noted out of 592 million AstraZeneca shots administered globally.