News about treatments and vaccines to fight Covid-19—usually grounded in the cold reality that proven therapies are months away—are flying through the media airwaves now. A helpful resource to follow these developments, the Covid-19 Treatment and Vaccine Tracker, was announced last week by the Milken Institute, a think tank and advocacy group based in Washington DC. This week, it says that 16 new treatments and nine vaccines have shown up; the combined total is now 118.
A useful refinement of the data is that the treatments are divided by medical category: antibodies, antivirals, cell-based therapies, RNA-based therapies and scanning efforts across pharmacopeias around the world. There are also 18 “other” treatments, including the repurposed chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine antimalarial touted by President Trump on thin anecdotal evidence; Milken says that at least five trials are currently being conducted on the antimalarial, including a newly launched “Solidarity” program by the World Health Organization.
Two other bits of information are revealed in the Covid-19 Tracker: the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda) is funding four trials (including a “platform” viral vector for a variety of infectious diseases that started before the current pandemic). Barda is an HHS office that was founded in 2006. The other significant funder of trials is the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a “public, private, philanthropic and civil organization” launched in 2017 at the World Economic Forum (aka the Davos meeting). It is currently sponsoring 8 trials of Covid-19-related vaccines.
In February, CEPI announced a $2-billion target to fund more Covid-19 research, for which some $430 million has been received from the governments of UK, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Despite the fact that CEPI is sponsoring trials occurring in the US (notably at Moderna Pharma, Inovio Pharma and the Univ. of Pittsburgh), the US government has not joined.