Catching up with Coronavirus: The race to contain the outbreak is on
As Coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, Rachel Howard explores what pharma is doing to advance research into the virus, considering lessons learned from previous public health emergencies of international concern.
Over the last month, our newsfeeds have increasingly been dominated by updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Believed to have originated in a live animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, at the time of publishing COVID-19 has registered over 75,000 confirmed cases and 2000 deaths, with 29 countries and territories affected. nCoV is in the same family as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), another strain of coronavirus identified in 2003. While nCoV looks likely to have a lower fatality rate, it has spread much more quickly, with the number of reported cases already having rapidly overtaken SARS and continuing to grow by the day. All indications suggest the virus is highly contagious – including, critically, at the stage before an individual displays any symptoms of infection. This outbreak was declared as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 30th January 2020, making it the sixth such emergency since the International Health Regulations came into force in 2005: H1N1 influenza virus (swine flu) in 2009 Wild poliovirus resurgence in 2014 West Africa Ebola virus 2014 Zika virus in 2016 Kivu Ebola virus in 2019 Declaring an outbreak as a PHEIC, in…
Cool heads in a crisis?
Understanding the role pharmaceutical companies can play in fighting today’s global health pandemics
First there was Ebola and now there is Zika; two official World Health Organization (WHO) Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC) within as many years. Whenever global health crises such as these emerge, the pharmaceutical industry comes under intense scrutiny for not having an immediate solution available. Part of the problem is that prevention is not always financially viable; the substantial R&D costs of developing vaccines or treatments for all known and potential threats that may or may not one day develop into global pandemics is not a feasible burden for the industry to carry alone.