Vaccine manufacturer Merck has abandoned development of two coronavirus vaccines, saying that after extensive research it was concluded that the shots offered less protection than just contracting the virus itself and developing antibodies.
The company announced that the shots V590 and V591 were ‘well tolerated’ by test patients; however, they generated an ‘inferior’ immune system response in comparison with natural infection.
The company stated that instead it will focus on research into therapeutic drugs labeled as MK-7110 and MK-4482.
The drugs aim to protect patients from the damage of an overactive immune response to the virus.
“Interim results from a Phase 3 study showed a greater than 50 percent reduction in the risk of death or respiratory failure in patients hospitalized with moderate to severe COVID-19,” the company’s statement noted of the MK-7110 drug.
Merck is to receive around $356 million from the US government to fast-track production of the potential treatments under Operation Warp Speed.
Chief Marketing Officer Michael Nally recently told Bloomberg that Merck is aiming to produce some 20 million courses of the MK-4482 drug, an oral antiviral which patients will take twice a day for five days.
Ivermectin home treatment kits for two bucks each, anyone?
Merck First US Pharma Giant To Abandon COVID Vaccine Efforts
New Jersey-based Merck, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, has just abandoned its two experimental COVID vaccine projects after early data showed they generated little, if any, immune response in patients.
Merck’s shares took a hit on the news, tumbling nearly 2%, as the company – which has a long history of developing vaccines (though typically on a longer timeline) – adopted a different strategy from rivals like Pfizer, Moderna and J&J. Merck used a more traditional approach focusing on weakened viruses. One approach, called V590, used technology from Merck’s Ebola inoculation efforts, while the other, known as V591, was based on a measles vaccine used in Europe.
Merck has lagged peers like Pfizer, JNJ and GSK for pretty much the entire time, while its lab results were “disappointing, and “a bit of a surprise,” said Nick Kartsonis, Merck’s senior vice president of clinical research for infectious diseases and vaccines at Merck Research Laboratories.
Both shots generated fewer neutralizing antibodies than other vaccines and produced inferior immune responses compared with people who had naturally contracted the coronavirus. “We didn’t have what we needed to be able to move forward,” Kartsonis said in an interview Sunday. After evaluating the data, Merck’s leadership team decided to scrap the vax effort and focus resources on COVID treatments instead.
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