Healthcare Roundup – COVID-19 Jabs: Israel trades data for doses; U.K. to vaccinate all adults by September;Grifols to trial new immunoglobulin therapy against COVID-19

Published on: January 18, 2021
Author: Amy Liu

COVID-19 Jabs: Israel trades data for doses; U.K. to vaccinate all adults by September

Israel, a frontrunner in COVID-19 immunization, has partnered with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) to share vaccine data in exchange for an uninterrupted supply of the vaccine.

The deal, under which Pfizer will receive weekly data about various age and demographic groups, is seen by some as a major step for Israel to become the first country to vaccinate most of its population against COVID-19. However, critics have raised ethical concerns.

Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, an expert in digital privacy at the Israel Democracy Institute, contends that sharing large volumes of information could jeopardize one’s privacy and allow the pharma giant to make millions in profits.

Meanwhile, the U.K. is planning to inoculate all its adults with the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine by September, according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

The country with the fifth-highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths have approved three injections against the virus on an emergency basis: mRNA-based vaccines of Pfizer (PFE)/BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA); Adenovirus-based vaccine developed by AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) and the University of Oxford.

The race for inoculations against COVID-19 comes amid calls for vaccine equality by the Director-General of the World Health Organization who says that vaccinating younger, healthier adults in rich countries before older people in poorer countries is ‘not right.’

Grifols to trial new immunoglobulin therapy against COVID-19

Grifols (OTCPK:GIKLY) announced the start of a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a new COVID-19 drug, containing anti-SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal antibodies from plasma donors who have recovered from the disease.

Based on the Grifols immunoglobulin Gamunex®-C, the treatment aims to provide immediate post-exposure protection against the virus, acting as a useful complement to the vaccine in the early phase after vaccination, a statement from the company said.

According to the company, it will be a useful complement to the vaccine in the early phase after vaccination and could protect the elderly and healthcare workers as well as the immunocompromised for whom vaccination is not recommended. It will also help contain outbreaks where vaccination has not started.

The clinical trial conducted in Spain involving 800 asymptomatic individuals who have tested positive for the virus will begin in February 2021, with the results expected in the spring.

Dr. Oriol Mitjà, a principal researcher of the trial, said the treatment of polyclonal antibodies offers a ‘greater diversity’ compared with treatments based on monoclonal antibodies.

Dr. Antonio Páez, Medical Director at Grifols, added that the new therapy, being easy to refrigerate and with subcutaneous administration, facilitates the distribution and can be used in a doctor’s office, avoiding hospitalization.

A Phase 3 international multicenter trial conducted by Grifols in partnership with various other companies and government agencies to evaluate anti-SARS-CoV-2 hyperimmune globulin in hospitalized and serious cases of COVID-19 is on track for results in Q1 2021.

Quest Diagnostics granted CDC contract to sequence COVID-19 gene variants

Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) has entered into an agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide genomic sequencing to identify new mutations in, and patterns of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Financial terms of the agreement are not disclosed.

The company will perform the sequencing from its advanced diagnostics laboratory in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

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