As the novel coronavirus climbs to its peak, continuing to strain resources and healthcare systems across the country, we’ve seen the many courageous faces of selfless men and women putting their health on the line to care for others in increasingly crowded hospitals, battling on the front lines to save lives and halt the virus in its tracks. Yet there remain many faces that we haven’t seen that are fighting just as hard to defeat COVID-19 from another angle. For the second installment of our seven-part #CombatingCoronavirus series we’re focusing on the behind-the-scenes scientists working tirelessly to develop possibly life-saving vaccines and therapies to COVID-19. Up this week: Emergent BioSolutions.
Finding the Fix
Emergent BioSolutions (NYSE: EBS) is a global biopharmaceutical company that manufactures a range of products from the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan® to biodefense devices used by the U.S. military. Now, Emergent is leading the fight as biotech companies wage war on the COVID-19 pandemic.
As communities, hospitals and families across the country begin to acutely feel the various impacts of COVID-19, Emergent is working simultaneously on two unique plasma-based vaccine treatments to combat the novel disease. In developing these therapies Emergent is teaming up with two other biopharma companies– Novavax (maker of the Nanoflu influenza vaccine) and Vaxart— to collaborate and leverage existing strengths and tech advantages. In an unusual twist of good news related to the coronavirus, both treatment approaches expect to go to clinical trials this year.
Helping to speed up that process is Emergent’s partnership with the U.S. government. Recently the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $14.5 million in funding to support the company’s efforts against COVID-19, specifically its “COVID-HIG” approach that would use blood plasma donated from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus and therefore developed antibodies. (The second, parallel approach is called “COVID-EIG” and would use the plasma of immunized horses. To learn more about the similarities, differences, pros and cons of each approach go here. ) Thanks to its public-private partnership with BARDA as well as Emergent’s proven track record, the COVID-HIG vaccine treatment will be able to go straight to Phase 2 of FDA trials with clinical trials in patients expected to begin in August. Per Emergent CEO and President Robert Kramer, Sr.: “In the current pandemic scenario where no preventative or therapeutic options for COVID-19 are available, public-private partnerships such as this are essential to the rapid development of medical interventions.”
While Emergent works tirelessly to bring its COVID-19 treatments to market as soon as humanly possible– and be among the first to do so– it also continues to fight an epidemic that has existed long before the novel coronavirus breached U.S. shores. As the makers of Narcan®, the opioid overdose reversal nasal spray, Emergent works tirelessly every day to provide governments, communities and families with the tools they need to save lives in a variety of ways.