Covid-19 Healthcare Daily Update: Vaccine still elusive – Japan to ride out Covid-19 upsurge – surveys need more study before easing lockdowns

4th May 2020 (Last Updated May 4th, 2020 08:22)

4 May

Japan on track to stamp out the recent Covid-19 surge but more likely in the future
Japan’s Covid-19 case count and infection rate have been relatively mild since its first reported case on 16 January. The rate for total infections in Japan was as low as one case per million population one month later in February, and seven cases per million population two months later in March. For comparison, the first suspected domestic transmission in the US occurred on 26 February. The rate for total infections one month later in the US was already at 255 cases per million population, and a staggering 2,946 cases per million population two months later.

Covid-19 treatment on the horizon but vaccine remains elusive
According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center Pipeline Database and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) dashboard, there are, as of 23 April, 80 therapeutic drugs in Phases I, II, and III that may be able to treat Covid-19, but only nine prophylactic vaccine drugs in Phases I and II, indicating that while a possible cure for Covid-19 may be imminent, a prophylactic vaccine to combat the pandemic may need more time to come to fruition.

Preliminary antibody survey results require further investigation to ease social restrictions
Large-scale studies of the general population are needed in order to determine how wide the disease has spread, how deadly the virus really is, and whether enough of the population has become immune for social distancing restrictions to ease. Several survey results from Germany, the Netherlands, the US, and Switzerland find that anywhere from 2% to 30% of certain populations have already been infected with Covid-19. Yet these results have been heavily criticized as too preliminary, with larger-scale studies required to draw any sort of conclusions.

Covid-19: Some biopharma companies have seen market cap growth due to the pandemic
Covid-19 has had a financial impact on the world’s capital markets, but for some biopharma companies, this has meant an opportunity for unprecedented growth in value. Financial data from GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center Companies Database reveals that small cap ($0.3–2.0B) public companies developing a Covid-19 drug, either therapeutic or prophylactic, are seeing significant growth in market cap while other industries are plunging.

Incyte and Eli Lilly may have JAK inhibitor edge over Pfizer for Covid-19
Incyte and Eli Lilly’s Janus kinase (JAK) 1/2 inhibitors—Jakafi (ruxolitinib) and Olumiant (baricitinib), respectively—may have a mechanism edge over Pfizer’s JAK 1/3 inhibitor Xeljanz (tofacitinib) in Covid-19. However, Theravance Biopharma’s pan-JAK inhibitor TD-0903 stands out for its nebulised mode of administration but there is still uncertainty about its value.