Merck

Merck Makes 3 Announcements Regarding Fight Against COVID-19

Kenilworth-based Merck has announced three significant scientific initiatives to combat COVID-19: two agreements to develop potential vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, and a research collaboration to advance the development of a novel antiviral candidate. The announcements are:

  • Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire Themis Bioscience, a company focused on vaccines and immune-modulation therapies for infectious diseases, including COVID-19. In March, Themis joined a consortium together with the Institut Pasteur and The Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, supported by funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), to develop a vaccine candidate targeting SARS-CoV-2 for the prevention of COVID-19.
  • Merck and IAVI, a nonprofit scientific research organization, will collaborate on the development vaccine against COVID-19. This vaccine candidate will use the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) technology that is the basis for Merck’s Ebola Zaire virus vaccine, ERVEBO® (Ebola Zaire Vaccine, Live), which was the first rVSV vaccine approved for use in humans. Under the agreement IAVI and Merck will work together to advance the development and global clinical evaluation of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate designed and engineered by IAVI scientists. The vaccine candidate is in preclinical development, and clinical studies are planned to start later in 2020. Both organizations will work together to develop the vaccine and make it accessible and affordable globally, if approved.
  • Finally, Merck will collaborate with Ridgeback Bio to advance development of an oral antiviral candidate for COVID-19. Called EIDD-2801, the drug is in early clinical development. Under terms of the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will gain exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize EIDD-2801 and related molecules.

“With our singular legacy and expertise in vaccines and anti-infective medicines, we know Merck has a responsibility to engage in the scientific community’s efforts to find new medicines and vaccines to bring this pandemic to an end,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “Merck has been fully committed to developing an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic since it was first recognized, and we know that success will require global collaboration among countries and companies and more. Today, we are proud to mark the culmination of our swift, conscientious and concerted effort to identify some of the most promising solutions to this global challenge and to put our resources to use in accelerating these efforts. We will ensure that all of these programs have the resources, attention and focus they need – and that the COVID-19 pandemic demands.”

“COVID-19 is a global challenge and requires global solutions. Merck intends to make any vaccine or medicine we develop for this pandemic broadly accessible and affordable globally, and we are working now to accomplish this goal as quickly as possible. As we just demonstrated with our Ebola vaccine, when the world needs to come together to tackle new and daunting challenges, Merck can be counted on to do our part. Though the challenge of this pandemic is immense, we know that science and collaboration will triumph, just as they have before. While we cannot predict when this battle will be won, we are confident that science is on our side, that collaboration is already well underway, and that together, we will prevail.”

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