A contract of roughly $1 billion in funding was awarded by the U.S. government to Vir Biotechnology for the purpose of responding to public health issues and preparing for future infectious disease outbreaks. This will be considered a readily available solution for potential infectious diseases that may emerge.
The primary goal of the company in 2016 was to fight against infectious and widespread diseases such as hepatitis B. The COVID-19 virus was a turning point for the company’s scope of work.
A division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Vir a $55 million grant to begin research. The research which has been shut down for almost two years will be sponsored by this grant. The funds will be used to further the development of VIR-2482, an experimental preventive monoclonal antibody against seasonal and pandemic-related flu viruses in humans and in animals that have emerged, or may emerge post 1918’s pandemic. The therapy is injected into the muscle.
If the medication proves effective, it can also be used for senior citizens or those at high risk of severe diseases. VIR-2482 is intended to be a universal preventive solution for influenza A, the only flu virus capable of causing pandemics. The solution is designed as an entire season single dose solution consisting of a unique technology known as Xencor.
Last year, Vir partnered with GSK for VIR-2482, giving the company the sole and feasible option to oversee the asset’s post-development of phase 2. GSK paid a hefty amount of $225 million in cash, which is intended for the research and develop medication for respiratory viruses. This partnership is not new for both companies as, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they jointly developed Xevudy (also known as sotrovimab) which is an oral antiviral medication to treat COVID-19 in adults. In May 2021, in light of the pandemic emergency, the medication received FDA approval for mild to moderate COVID-19. As new variants of the virus were identified a year later, the approval was canceled.
A phase 2 trial will start this year with the help of these funds. It is anticipated that the initial findings will be ready by the end of the first quarter of 2023. Post news of the funding in the market, the shares of the company showed an upward trend of 8.5% which is their highest increase in the three-month period.
The Chief Medical Officer of Vir Phil stated:
“In 2019, VIR-2482 was in its final stages of testing when the pandemic arrived. With this came the precautionary measures of social distancing that temporarily decreased the contagious flu transmission.”
The CEO of Vir Technologies George Scangos stated:
“Having enough antibodies that can protect people who won’t be able to survive is one of the critical reasons for being prepared for the next pandemic, the easy availability might help decrease the effect of the pandemic or stop it leading to fewer fatalities and sickness”.