Coronavirus company news summary – Merck joins race to find Covid-19 vaccines and antiviral drugs – Glenmark launches trial combining favipiravir with umifenovir

Allie Nawrat 27 May 2020 (Last Updated May 27th, 2020 08:53)

27 May 2020 

Merck has joined the race to develop vaccines and treatments against Covid-19 with separate agreements with Themis, IAVI and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The company agreed to acquire Themis, which is developing a Covid-19 vaccine candidate, while working with IAVI on a separate coronavirus vaccine candidate based on rVSV technology. Also, Merck and Ridgeback partnered to develop experimental antiviral drug, EIDD-2801, to treat Covid-19.

Researchers at Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the US are evaluating remdesivir in combination with rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib to treat Covid-19 patients as part of the ACTT 2 study funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The aim is to determine the ability of the combination to prevent or reduce the hyper-inflammatory cytokine storm.

Eli Lilly and its Chinese partner Junshi Biosciences have plans to launch clinical trials of Covid-19 antibody candidate in the second quarter of this year in the US and China, according to Reuters. Junshi said that the partners plan to submit an application to start human testing of one of their two antibodies tested in rhesus monkeys.

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals has launched a Phase III clinical trial to assess favipiravir in combination with antiviral drug umifenovir for the treatment of Covid-19 in India. Favipiravir and umifenovir have unique mechanisms of action, and their combination is expected to improve efficacy by addressing high viral loads during the early stage of the disease.