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Gilead, AstraZeneca and Pfizer may be winners in race for COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines: GlobalData

There is no shortage of candidates to help with COVID-19, but what is lacking right now is data on their efficacy

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More than 1,200 therapeutics and vaccines have entered the research and development (R&D) pipeline since January 2020, according to GlobalData, and that number grows every week. According to GlobalData’s Clinical and Commercial Analyzer tool, which rates the most promising and high-profile assets on a range of clinical and commercial attributes, remdesivir is the clear winner when it comes to therapeutics based on its clinical efficacy and the strength of its developer, Gilead.

Michael Breen, Director of Infectious Diseases and Ophthalmology at GlobalData, comments, “The need to address the COVID-19 pandemic is unequivocally being answered by the pharma and biotech industry. A broad-spectrum antiviral, remdesivir is one of a select few agents to show benefit for severe COVID-19 patients owing to its clear mechanism of action, becoming the standard of care in many countries. On the vaccines front, it is a more complicated story.

“GlobalData’s analysis shows that AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNtech are in the lead vaccine-wise, but this finding is based on preliminary data and the story could rapidly change once data on disease prevention become available. While registered, Russia’s Sputnik V appears to be weaker than other assets due to the dearth of available data.”

Given the number of players already involved, determining where each lies in the race to develop COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines is extraordinarily complex and constantly evolving. For example, understanding where chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine fits has been complicated by the volume of often conflicting and low-quality data.

Breen notes, “GlobalData’s analyzer shows that the likelihood of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine being successful is low, due to the poor quality of data supporting their use in combination with more rigorous studies suggesting a lack of utility.

“There are a number of other agents that are extremely promising. For vaccines, we would have to call out Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine, which entered the clinic at a blistering pace and may be the first to show positive Phase III data in the US. For therapeutics, Lilly’s monoclonal antibody LY-CoV555 is a highly promising therapeutic, while antivirals such as favipiravir may be highly beneficial in moderate patients.

“Additionally, immunomodulators such as tocilizumab or baricitinib may be able to show benefit for quelling hyper-inflammation when used in combination with an antiviral such as remdesivir. There is no shortage of candidates to help with COVID-19, but what is lacking right now is data on their efficacy.”

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