The new coronavirus is moving quickly around the world. Since December, when it was first identified in Wuhan, China, the virus has spread to more than 150 countries. More than 690,000 cases have been confirmed through Mar. 30, though the true number is surely higher, and over 33,000 people have died. The virus known as SARS-CoV-2 is straining healthcare systems in the hardest-hit regions, and threatens to do the same elsewhere as the infection total grows.
Dozens of drugmakers have started work on vaccines to protect against the virus or medicines to treat COVID-19, the illness it causes. Hundreds of studies are underway in search of an effective treatment, testing mostly repurposed HIV or influenza drugs. Yet it will likely be many months or even years, if at all, before one designed specifically for SARS-CoV-2 becomes available. Current treatment consists of supportive care.
For the biopharma industry, the virus is disrupting business on a broad scale. Many companies source chemicals or pharmaceutical ingredients from China, creating a significant supply chain challenge. The epidemic's impact on clinical trials, meanwhile, is widening, causing delays to enrollment or postponements to studies of treatments for other diseases.
Drugmakers themselves aren't immune to the outbreak, as evidenced by the dozens of employees at Biogen who tested positive for the virus following a late February conference. Most have mandated that employees who can work from home now must.
Below, BioPharma Dive compiled a roundup of our coronavirus coverage so far. There are many unanswered questions, and the drug industry's response is just beginning. We will update the roundup each day.