As we all know, scientists around the world are now actively testing drugs and vaccines for coronavirus infection COVID-19. This week, Samsung Biologics, a biotechnology division of Samsung Electronics, won its largest contract from the Vir Biotechnology biopharmaceutical startup to produce medicine that could treat COVID-19.
The total amount of the contract is $360 million, which corresponds to 63% of the total revenue of Samsung Biologics in 2019. Samsung Biologics will start producing drugs for treating coronavirus infection COVID-19 right after Vir Biotechnology completes its development.
Earlier, the leading pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline announced a decision to invest up to $250 million in Vir Biotechnology to finance two long-term projects to develop a vaccine to prevent viral infection.
Right now, Vir Biotechnology researchers are creating a potential vaccine. At the moment, the drug is called "SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies," and, as the name implies, it is based on monoclonal antibodies.
Two Vir Biotechnology drugs are currently being prepared for the clinical trial phase. They are both based on an antibody from one patient, and both are modified to last longer. The company’s specialists modified one of the drugs to create long-term immunity.
Samsung spokesman said the parties expect to sign a final agreement by the end of July.
The trial production of drugs should begin in October this year at the Samsung Biologics factory in Songdo, located 30 kilometers southwest of Seoul in South Korea.
According to officials and experts, antibody-based drugs can be used in three possible ways:
- To prevent infection of people at high risk, such as health workers.
- To prevent the development of serious respiratory diseases that may develop due to COVID-19 infection.
- For the treatment of patients with severe respiratory diseases caused by COVID-19.
The partnership between Samsung and Vir Biotechnology was announced the day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged everyone to come together to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. By the way, the South Korean government plans to invest about $172 million in support of vaccine development projects.