BiotechStockTrader has partnered with BCC Research to bring you a look at the history of pandemic outbreaks and the effect they have globally. Posted below is a summary of the research report, available in full from BCC Research.
A cluster of cases of pneumonia, caused by a newly detected β-coronavirus, occurred in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The WHO named it as the 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Jan. 12, 2020. The WHO officially named the disease as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the International Committee’s Coronavirus Research Group (CSG) recommended that the new coronavirus be named SARS-CoV-2, both announced on Feb. 11, 2020. On Jan. 7, 2020, Chinese scientists isolated a SARS-CoV-2 from an infected patient. Studies estimated the basic reproduction number (R0) of SARS-CoV-2 to be around 2.2, or even more (range from 1.4 to 6.5), and familial clusters of pneumonia outbreaks add to evidence of the epidemic COVID-19 steadily growing by human-to-human transmission.
For more information on COVID-19 R&D, impact on economy and healthcare industry, please refer to the special report on COVID-19 in the BCC research library.
Symptoms of COVID-19
According to recent study, using a sample of 1099 laboratory confirmed cases, found that typical clinical manifestations included fever, cough, fatigue, sputum development, shortness of breath, sore throat, and headache. A small number of patients showed gastrointestinal symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting.
COVID-19 Symptoms by Percentage of Patients
Source: British Journal of Medicine
The incubation period for COVID-19, defined as the time between exposure to the virus (becoming infected) and symptom onset, averages five to six days, but can reach up to 14 days. During this period, also known as the “presymptomatic” period, some infected persons can be contagious. Therefore, transmission from a pre-symptomatic case can occur before symptom onset.
Observation studies are being conducted worldwide to understand the epidemiology of COVID-19. According to the WHO, the case fatality rate (CFR) of the disease is less than previous outbreaks such as SARS and MERS. As of May 14, 2020, the global total number of reported cases and number of deaths are illustrated in Table 4.
COVID-19 Research and Development
The novel coronavirus pandemic profoundly challenges biopharmaceutical R&D because lack of an effective antiviral treatment gravely threatens public health. The rapid pace of COVID-19 vaccine candidates being rolled out in clinical trials underscores the lessons learned from previous public health crises. Currently, about 165 therapeutic drugs and 66 vaccines are in development.
Global biopharmaceutical companies are developing scientific studies and also trials on previously approved medicines that could treat coronavirus for emergency use and use in clinical trials worldwide, including compounds previously tested on other viral pathogens such as Ebola and HIV.
Since the pandemic, many companies have examined their drug and vaccine portfolios to determine any research benefit. Analysis of drugs and vaccines portfolios included scientists seeking potentially valuable assets that could help in developing new or repurposing treatments or vaccines to counter the novel coronavirus.
Several biopharmaceutical companies are investigating the development of vaccine candidates for prevention. They are sharing of existing technologies to facilitate rapid production over time once a candidate for treatment is identified.
For some biotechnology companies, the coronavirus pandemic represents an opportunity. The dire need for effective therapies for COVID-19 has spurred a huge number of collaborations across the biopharmaceutical sector, boosting the share prices of big and small drug developers.
Global Market for COVID-19 Diagnostics, by Technology, Through 2027
Source: BCC Research
Clinical Trials on COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, companies are accelerating their therapeutic clinical trials as well as increasing the number of trials. Currently, 12 COVID-19 clinical trials have completed. Most of these are funded by Chinese hospitals and in the Wuhan province. To date, few outstanding potential drug candidates have emerged for COVID-19 therapy.
Completed trials have yielded off-label drugs approved to treat other infectious diseases, thus far. Hydroxychloroquine, for example, was first approved for malaria treatment. The interim results of an ongoing study of hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin (conducted at Aix Marseille University in France) showed a reduction in COVID-19 disease burden, but another completed clinical trial that examined hydroxychloroquine in antiviral combinations did not achieve primary endpoints.
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