Following the news that cases of people infected with the Wuhan coronavirus rose to more than 270 laboratory-confirmed cases and the virus may spread from human-to-human;
Philipp Rosenbaum, Infectious Diseases Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, provides his view:
China has experience with this kind of viral outbreak. The new coronavirus 2019-nCoV is related to SARS, the deadly outbreak that originated in China in 2003, so Chinese authorities can use the lessons they learned from that outbreak to contain the new Wuhan coronavirus.
In the meanwhile, rapid identification of the new pathogen and information sharing are imperative to allow global surveillance to contain the spread, especially during the ongoing cold and influenza season, as coronavirus infections initially show similar symptoms to respiratory-related hospitalizations due to cold and influenza. However, uncertainty about the transmission of the new Wuhan coronavirus poses a challenge and makes global alertness necessary – especially since vaccines and treatment options for coronavirus infections are only in early clinical development.
The virus is thought to be in the same family responsible for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreaks. According to GlobalData’s proprietary drug database, three MERS vaccine candidates are in early stage clinical trials. Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ DNA vaccine INO-4301 completed Phase I in 2019 and is recruiting for Phase I/II. Phase I studies include a recombinantly modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) viral vector with MERS glycoproteins from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, as well as Vaccitech’s VTP-500, which uses the proprietary chimpanzee adenovirus vector ChAdOx1 to deliver the coronaviral spike proteins.
Several antiviral candidates targeting the viral surface spike proteins of MERS, with the aim of prohibiting viral entry into host cells, are in Phase I trials, including Regeneron’s REGN-3048 and REGN-3051, as well as SAB Biotherapeutics’ SAB-301. Furthermore, Gilead’s RNA polymerase inhibitor remdesivir is being tested for multiple viral indications such as SARS, MERS, Ebola, and Zika.”