COVID-19: Roundup 29 May

29 May 2020

29 May 

Here is our weekly roundup on the latest research and scientific efforts against the coronavirus.

MSD logoIavi logo


MSD and IAVI have entered a new partnership to develop a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV02. This vaccine candidate will be developed based on MSD’s Ebola Zaire virus vaccine, ERVEBO®. (Ebola Zaire Vaccine, Live). The vaccine candidate engineered by IAVI scientists, will now enter the preclinical development stage, and clinical studies are planned to begin later in 2020.

Read more here.



The UK government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved Gilead’s covid-19 drug remdesivir, giving early access of the drug to people hospitalised with severe covid-19.

The UK government said remdesivir will be available to ‘selected’ covid-19 patients, particularly to those who are most likely to receive a benefit from the antiviral drug.

Recent findings from the 1,063-patient ACTT-1 trial of remdesivir has indicates that a ten-day course of the drug can reduce the time in hospital by four days for covid-19 patients. However, the results suggest that the drug does not support severe cases requiring mechanical ventilation and will therefore be reserved for use in patients who are not critically ill with covid-19.

Read more here

MSD logo

MSD & Themis

MSD and Themis have entered into an agreement under which MSD will acquire Themis. Themis, which has a broad pipeline of vaccine candidates and immune-modulatory therapies, had joined a consortium together with the Institut Pasteur and The Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh to develop a vaccine candidate targeting SARS-CoV-2.

Dr Roger M Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories confirmed that ‘Building on the pioneering work of the Institut Pasteur, the Themis team has established specialized expertise that complements Merck’s own capabilities in the discovery, development, manufacturing and global distribution of vaccines.’

MSD are now eager to combine expertise and capabilities to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more here.

Mondi logo


Mondi, a global leader in packaging and paper, will be producing melt blown nonwoven fabric and surgical masks at its soon to-be built production lines in Germany.

Given the shortage of PPE and melt blown fabric, an essential component for surgical face masks, these new lines will have the capacity to produce more than one million surgical face masks. Mondi will be offering around 50% of its production to other face mask manufacturers in Europe.

Jürgen Schneider, Managing Director, Mondi Personal Care Components (PCC), said, ‘The in-house production capability of all substantial components positions us to build up a long-term competitive local supply. Once up and running, we will be able to produce more than one million face masks per day.’

Read more here.


US biotech company Novavax, is beginning human testing of its coronavirus vaccine backed with $338m in funding from CEPI. 

As part of this phase, the first health volunteers will be dosed with NVX-CoV2373. Around 130 subjects aged 18-59 will be enrolled at two clinical centres in Australia, and will test two versions of NVX-CoV2373, one with Novavax’ Matrix-M adjuvant and one without.

CEPI’s backing will allow Novavax to manufacture 100m doses of this vaccine by the end of the year and could reach a billion doses during 2021, dependant on the success of the clinical trials.

Read more here.

PureTech health


US biotech PureTech, aims to develop its drug LYT-100, also known as deupirfenidone, an anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic to treat inflammation and lung scarring in patients with severe cases of covid-19 or who have recovered.

Deupirfenidone will be tested in non-critical COVID-19 patients with respiratory complications as part of a global randomised placebo-controlled trial expected to begin during 2020.

Dennis Ausiello, MD, former chief of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of the PureTech R&D Committee, said; ‘Emerging data suggests that a high proportion of COVID-19 patients are at risk of impaired lung function and fibrosis after recovery, as well as during acute infection. With more than five million documented infections to date worldwide, there is a clear and urgent need for therapeutics to address the longer-term sequalae of COVID-19.’

Read more here.

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Keep up to date on the response from the chemical industry and the scientific community to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. SCI will be covering key coronavirus research and reporting news from trusted sources so that you have the coronavirus latest.

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