The first cases of coronavirus infection outside China were reported January 13 in Thailand and January 16 in Japan. In the U.S, researchers believe the spread could have begun with a traveler who arrived in the region from Wuhan on Jan. 15. Since January 23, 2020, the Chinese government placed Wuhan and other nearby cities on lockdown. However, the disease has now spread to at least 180 countries and territories worldwide.
The Global Coronavirus Vaccines Pipeline report features a comprehensive data analysis of over 150 organizations worldwide working on developing more than 100 coronavirus vaccines focused on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Close to 30 pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies, government agencies, and research institutes have disclosed research programs focused on developing vaccines/drugs to prevent or treat COVID-19 infections. In addition, more than 40 diagnostic tests are currently being developed for the effective diagnosis of patients. Dozens of them are in Phase 1-3 of clinical trials.
An Oxford University research team had previously developed an effective vaccine against a related coronavirus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This has helped them quickly move into phase 1 human testing of their COVID-19 candidate. In January, the team began adapting their technique to fight SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Human trials began on April 23rd in the UK. Furthermore, if successful the vaccine could be available as early as September.
Sanofi and Regeneron launched a Phase 2/3 trial in New York evaluating Kevzara, an existing drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences, has been tested in patients with Ebola virus. It has shown promise in animal models for MERS and SARS. Remdesivir has reached Phase III in the U.S. and China.
The rising healthcare burden of the disease has also attracted significant funding to fuel drug development efforts in this space; recent funding initiatives include $100 million funding by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. More than 2,100 grants have been awarded to research institutes engaged in projects related to coronavirus.