FLORENCE, 12 June (APM) - The EU is ahead of the U.S. in progress to develop a Covid-19 vaccine with a candidate being developed by an AstraZeneca partnership, an Italian health minister adviser told Il Messaggero in an article published on Wednesday.
Walter Ricciardi, who is also executive member of the World Health Organization (WHO), stressed that there is nothing certain yet but the aim is to have the first doses available for winter. He said: "It is pleasing to say that, in this case, Europe is ahead of the United States."
The paper noted that the University of Oxford is working with Italy’s IRBM at Pomezia, south of Rome, and AstraZeneca on the production of the vaccine. "It is at a more advanced stage of development than the others," Ricciardi reiterated.
Massimo Scaccabarozzi, the head of the pharma association Farmindustria has highlighted how Italian industry is adequately equipped to produce a Covid-19 vaccine.
Citing comments made to new agency ANSA, Il Messaggero quoted Scaccabarozzi as saying: "(We) are ready to produce the anti-Covid vaccine in Europe and on the national landscape we do have several specialised hubs and industrial centres, such as the one in Tuscany."
But he warned that where a vaccine is manufactured will depend on which candidate successfully emerges from the Phase III stage. "In fact, the vaccine candidates are not all the same and each of those being tested implies different production procedures. It is therefore not the case that all our companies can produce all types of vaccine," he said.
Scaccabarozzi cited WHO data as showing there are 136 vaccine candidates being studied of which 8 are in Phase II or II. The hope is that several vaccines will reach the end of the development line, he added.
"That is why it is essential to aim for a European alliance for production," he stressed. Scaccabarozzi suggested that, even if production is outside Italy, the aim is still to have a worldwide production that guarantees the vaccine to all countries regardless of the origin of the parent company that develops it
EU’s pharmaceutical strategy consultation welcomed by generics chief
The EU’s decision to launch a consultation on pharmaceutical strategy is has been welcomed by the head of the Italian generics association AssoGenerici as a step in the right direction, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Saturday.
Enrique Häusermann believes it is an opportunity to strengthen the manufacturing and supply system in Europe after the stresses and strains of the coronavirus emergency.
He suggested that the it should involve encouraging investment in production capacity of the internal market to ensure it can be sustainable to continue producing the oldest off-patent drugs. The generic chief warned that policies which put savings above all else have undermined manufacturing of these products.
He said: "We need a long-term industrial plan, something urged by companies in the sector for some time, to remove bureaucratic obstacles, develop competitive and sustainable market policies and protect European investments."
More than 30 potential Covid-19 vaccines, says EMA chief
There are currently 33 potential developers of a coronavirus vaccine and 125 candidate drug therapies, Guido Rasi, executive director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Wednesday.
However, there are few advanced projects except for Gilead’s remdesivir, he warned during a hearing of the EU foreign affairs committee, the paper said. According to Rasi, it will be necessary to wait at least until the first quarter of 2021 to have a vaccine with robust study data and guaranteed patient safety.
There is concern about excessive fragmentation of studies which too often lead to announcements of miraculous progress in about twenty patients, but immediately afterwards produce inconsistent results, the paper said.
Zambon launches new edition of international accelerator programme
Zambon has launched a new edition of its international accelerator programme for life sciences start-ups, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Saturday.
It was created by Zcube, a Zambon research venture, and is aimed at identifying and financing the most promising projects that will define the future of health. The fourth edition of the scheme will have a strong focus on digital technologies the paper said.
Elena Zambon, president of the homonymous pharmaceutical company, highlighted how the programme helps transform promising projects into concrete solutions for patients.
She said the decision to prioritise digital initiatives is out of a conviction that they will be increasingly important to face the challenges of health and sustainability of the system.