The coronavirus or COVID-19 has infected about 119,120 with more than 4,280 reported deaths while 65,765 recovered till now but the lack of treatment has forced many pharma and biotech companies to rush their research on antiviral drugs and vaccines to cure the infection.
Among them, two companies, Gilead Sciences and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals are in the forefront developing a possible treatment for coronavirus, according to a report published by Leerink Research.
Gilead had earlier developed an antiviral drug 'Remdesivir' to treat the Ebola virus. "There is only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy and that's remdesivir," said WHO assistant director-general Bruce Aylward at a February press briefing in China.
Gilead announced the initiation of two Phase 3 clinical studies, while there are 4 phases of these trials in total. Using the drug remdesivir, China has started two clinical trials in infected patients in Hubei province and Gilead donated the drug and provided scientific inputs and the results are expected in April. The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has also started a phase 2 study to test remdesivir in adult patients infected with the novel coronavirus.
Regeneron is another research body that is simultaneously developing preventive medicines and therapeutic antibodies for COVID-19 with an approach that was successfully used to develop an Ebola vaccine and drugs to treat other viruses, like MERS, Dengue and Zika.
Experts estimate that it would take about 18-24 months to completely develop a COVID-19 vaccine, while antiviral drugs could be nearer. Right now most of the investigational therapies of vaccines are only in the animal testing stage.
Stocks and shares
In the background of so many companies racing to find drugs and vaccines, the bets are high on them right now with their stocks reaching peaks. Any company that succeeds to find a drug or a vaccine for coronavirus stands the chance now.