Roche Holding and Gilead Sciences collaborate to help develop vaccine for COVID-19

Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche Holding AG partners with American Gilead Sciences to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. According to Bloomberg, the companies are working on a late-stage trial of a two-drug combination “Actemra & Remdesivir” to help develop a possible vaccine for the coronavirus.

Both companies have reportedly launched a Phase III clinical trial (phase where study of thousands of people that evaluates safety and efficacy of the drug) in COVID-19 pneumonia, and they’re testing both Roche’s Actemra with Gilead’s Remdesivir — the only drug shown to be effective against the virus and is also approved by the US FDA. The results of both drugs combined will then be compared to those from patients who’ve received remdesivir and a placebo.

“Based on our current understanding, we believe that combining an antiviral with an immune modulator could potentially be an effective approach to treating patients with severe disease,” Roche Chief Medical Officer Levi Garraway said in a statement.

Roche’s Actemra is basically used to treat inflammatory diseases and control the cytokine storms related with certain immuno-oncology treatments, while Remdesivir is an antiviral drug used to stop viruses from replicating and had previously shown to be active in fighting MERS in 2012 and also active in fighting SARS in 2002–2003.

According to further reports, both companies will enrol as many as 450 patients in the U.S., Canada and Europe in June for the trial, called “Remdacta”. The trial had started in April and awaiting results as soon as June. Roche Pharma will also be increasing the number of patients of another trial from 330 to 450 patients worldwide.