Coronavirus drugmakers race for treatments, vaccines

Coronavirus is more concerning than other viruses: Rep. Burgess

Rep. Michael Burgess, (R-TX), discusses the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.

As the coronavirus continues to blaze a deadly path, drugmakers are working around the clock for a cure.

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In the latest, World Health Organization report, the coronavirus outbreak has left 80,239 people worldwide sick and killed 2,700. Tuesday, the acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf appeared on capitol hill, to give a Senate subcommittee hearing on the 2021 DHS budget in which he was asked a series of questions about the United States preparation for the virus and when a vaccine will be available.

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Wolf said, that the U.S. is a few months away from developing a vaccine for the virus. The answer was inconsistent with the 12-18 month timeline Senators were briefed on earlier in the day, according to Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they're 53 confirmed U.S. cases, including 44 Americans who contracted the disease aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the states to be quarantined and treated.

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Below is a list of the drugmakers racing for a vaccine for the virus:

  • Moderna [MRNA]: It was reported earlier this week, that Masschuettes-based biotech company, Moderna, released an experimental vaccine for the virus that it has been released to officials at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The vaccine will go through a round of testing and comparing before it will be discharged to the public. It is not entirely clear how long that will take. 

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  • Gilead [GILD]: California-based biotech company, Gilead, shares rose nearly 5 percent Monday after an official from the World Health Organization said that Gilead’s drug remdesivir is signaling that it may be able to treat the coronavirus. The drug remdesivir was used to treat symptoms of the Ebola virus during the 2016 outbreak. Gilead reported Wednesday they are working with health authorities in China to initiate two Phase 3 clinical studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of remdesivir in adults diagnosed with COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). The program will enroll 1,000 patients across Asia starting in March.

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  • Novavax [NVAX]: Earlier this month Novavax, announced they would spend the next three months creating a vaccine for the virus, slicing through the estimated 3-year timeline the vaccine typically takes. The Maryland based clinical vaccine company, president, Gregory Glenn explained on a Washington, D.C., radio station WTOP that they will use a coronavirus gene to model the current outbreak’s vaccine. He added that the team is working “24/7” to make it happen before November. The goal is for Novavax and five other companies to combine for 150 million doses of the vaccine. 

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  • AIM Immunotech [AIM]:  AIM Immunotech, started its development of a coronavirus vaccine earlier this month with its Ampligen which was used to treat SARS in animals. The Florida based immuno-pharmacy company quickly moved to file three patent applications for Ampligen so that it can be used as a therapy for coronavirus internationally. Ampligen is a prophylactic and protective drug that was rated a perfect 100 survival rate when animals received human dosages for SARS. 

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