COVID-19: Industry pulling together

30 March 2020

As Covid-19 continues to spread across the globe, we round up some of the innovative steps being taken by businesses in the pharmaceutical and chemical sector to aid those on the frontline of this global crisis.

30 March 2020


Pharmaceutical company Novartis UK, along with several others, is making available a set of compounds from its library that it considers are suitable for in vitro antiviral testing. The move was in response to call from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries Association for research and development work on coronavirus.

In the meantime, Novartis’s generics business Sandoz said that it had committed to keeping prices stable for a ‘basket of essential medicines that may help in the treatment of coronavirus cases’. Ricard Saynor, Sandoz Chief Executive Officer said, ‘I am very concerned about reports that prices for basic medicines such as painkillers and antibiotics are rising substantially as a result of a tightening supply situation for active pharmaceutical ingredients out of China.’ Saynor added that ‘I also strongly feel the generics industry has a particular responsibility right now to ensure that patients can get the medicines they need.’


Along with its research and development efforts, which are being carried out in partnership with business and academia, global healthcare company GSK has announced that is donating $10 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The Fund was created by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to help WHO and its partners to prevent, detect and manage the pandemic, particularly where the needs are greatest. Among its objectives, the Fund will enable the distribution of essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health workers.

GSK has also initiated a volunteering process by which staff with medical expertise can provide support to frontline health workers. Initiatives have also been put in place to use sales personnel to help with the delivery of PPE and testing equipment, and specialists such as procurement leaders to work with national governments on developing supply chains.


Ramping up the supply of PPE, AstraZeneca is donating nine million face masks to support healthcare workers around the world. The company has partnered with the World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform, created with the support of the WHO, to identify countries in greatest need. Italy was the first country to receive a shipment.

Alongside this AstraZeneca is accelerating the development of its diagnostic testing capabilities to scale-up screening and is also partnering with governments on existing screening programmes. The company is also working to identify monoclonal antibodies to progress towards clinical trial evaluation as a treatment for Covid-19.


As people are urged to take the basic precaution of cleaning their hands to help prevent the spread of the virus, chemical producer Ineos has announced that it is to build a facility producing hand sanitiser. The plant, which will be located near Middlesbrough, UK, will be completed in 10 days and produce one million bottles of sanitiser each month. A similar facility will be built in Germany. The product will mainly be used to meet the needs of frontline medical and care services.

Related Links

Coronavirus strategies shifted following epidemiologists' report 

SCI's coronavirus statement 

SCI’S Biotechnology Group


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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