The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard yesterday announced a new initiative to accelerate technologies designed to identify, evaluate, develop and scale back treatments for the COVID-19 epidemic.
The COVID-19 therapeutic accelerator will evaluate new and re-proposed biological drugs and medications for immediate treatment of patients with COVID-19 and other viral pathogens in the future, according to a statement from the Gates Foundation.
As part of the initiative, the three partners committed themselves to “fair access, including through the provision of affordable products in low-resource settings”.
This is a problem right now as healthcare systems struggle with access to potentially expensive test kits and therapies developed by the private industry. Government agencies in charge of responding to the outbreak apparently lack the resources to engage in this initiative and rely on the private sector to help.
The immediate goal of the new accelerator is to catalyze the evaluation and development of new and re-proposed biological drugs and drugs for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.
At this time, there are no broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies available to combat the spread of emerging pathogens – and certainly none approved for use on COVID-19, according to the Gates Foundation statement.
Gates and Wellcome, a nonprofit foundation, each contribute up to $ 50 million with the accelerator, with funds from the Gates Foundation derived from its $ 100 million commitment to fund a COVID-19 response made in February.
“Viruses like COVID-19 are spreading rapidly, but the development of vaccines and treatments to stop them is moving slowly,” said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a statement. “If we are to make the world safe from epidemics like COVID-19, especially for the most vulnerable people, we need to find a way to accelerate research and development. This requires governments, private companies and philanthropic organizations to act quickly to fund research. and development. “
The new accelerator will work with the World Health Organization, government and private sector funders and other organizations together with regulators and political institutions, according to a statement, and will focus on everything from developing the pharmaceutical pipeline to production and expansion of production and distribution.
For the Gates Foundation, the interdisciplinary approach was one of the lessons learned from its approach to containing the Ebola epidemic in 2014.
According to a statement from the foundation, the accelerator will operate as a joint funders initiative and pursue three different strategies. It will identify compounds and potential new therapies, collaborate with industry partners and coordinate with regulators to place treatments on the market.
“This virus is an unprecedented global threat, and for which we must promote international collaborations to develop treatments, rapid diagnoses and vaccines. Science is moving at a phenomenal rate against COVID-19, but to overcome this epidemic we need more investments and to ensure coordination of research, “said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome, in a note. “The therapeutic accelerator will allow us to do this for potential treatments with support for research, development, evaluation and production. COVID-19 is an extremely demanding virus, but we have shown that through transnational collaboration we can deal with emerging infectious diseases. “