The U.K.’s drug regulator has started accelerated reviews of Covid-19 vaccines under development from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, as Britain gets ready to approve the first successful shot as quickly as possible. The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency started a so-called rolling review of the Pfizer vaccine in recent weeks, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who didn’t want to be identified because the procedure hasn’t been announced publicly. The agency is also conducting an expedited review of Astra’s vaccine, which the company is co-developing with the University of Oxford, a spokesman for Astra confirmed.
The move supports the U.K.’s plans to potentially move ahead of the European Union on clearing a vaccine. While the U.K. is still subject to the approval process of the European Medicines Agency until the end of the Brexit transition process this year, the government has said that if there was a compelling case to move more quickly than the EMA, it would look at granting a temporary authorization for use.
Biotech Consortium Identifies COVID-19 Antibody Combinations
The UK BIA Antibody Taskforce, a UK consortium developing antibodies for treating COVID-19, has identified differentiated antibody combinations to take further into development as as an antibody cocktail. The candidate antibodies are the first to be selected by the taskforce for the next stage of development, following assessment by collaborators for potency.
Further assessment of their efficacy as a cocktail treatment is on-going, although early indications are showing a potential competitively potent cocktail that is differentiated from other product currently being investigated in the clinic, said the BioIndustry Association (BIA). “This ground-breaking Taskforce has brought together UK-based industry experts who share a joint commitment to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Steve Bates, chief executive officer of the BIA.