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Health Agencies, Biopharmaceutical Firms Form Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Jeff Brody

The National Institutes of Health and three other U.S. health agencies have teamed up with the Foundation for the NIH, European Medicines Agency and 16 biopharmaceutical companies to speed up the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

The Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines partnership will work to streamline clinical trials, coordinate regulatory processes and use assets to accelerate response to the coronavirus pandemic and other future health emergencies, NIH said Friday.

“We need to bring the full power of the biomedical research enterprise to bear on this crisis,” said NIH Director Francis Collins. “Now is the time to come together with unassailable objectivity to swiftly advance the development of the most promising vaccine and therapeutic candidates that can help end the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

The public-private partnership ACTIV has four fast-track focus areas: standardize and share preclinical evaluation processes in an open forum that allows for validation and comparison; accelerate and prioritize clinical assessment of therapeutic candidates with near-term potential; maximize clinical trial effectiveness and capacity; and advance vaccine development.

The three other U.S. health agencies involved in ACTIV are the Department of Health and Human Services’ office of the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

The 16 participating companies are:

  • AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV)
  • Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN)
  • AstraZeneca
  • Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY)
  • Evotec
  • GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK)
  • Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)
  • KSQ Therapeutics
  • Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY)
  • Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK)
  • Novartis
  • Pfizer (NYSE: PFE)
  • Roche
  • Sanofi
  • Takeda
  • Vir Biotechnology (Nasdaq: VIR)

“The ACTIV partnership will bring new levels of coordination and speed to public and private work on therapies and vaccines for COVID-19—work that NIH, HHS, and the Trump Administration began literally days after the coronavirus threat was identified in China in January,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement issued Friday. “By bringing together 16 pharmaceutical companies and five government agencies here and abroad, the ACTIV partnership will accelerate the amazing work being done every day by scientists and innovators inside and outside of government.”

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