By John Hoggard, Director of Healthcare and Life Sciences, North America, The UK’s Department for International Trade
What does everything on this list have in common?
- Developing a novel vaccine
- Recruiting 15,000 patients for a clinical trial in 3 months
- Designing an adaptable multi-product trial at scale and pace
Perhaps the title gave it away. All were British innovations to tackle the pandemic. And all were made possible by a strong foundation of partnership between the life sciences communities in the US and UK.
The world’s top 10 universities and top three global life sciences hubs are in the US and UK. The US is the number one choice for co-authorship for UK researchers, and our joint publications have a citation impact nearly 3x the global average. Building on these strengths has enabled us to make an impact against this pandemic and will lead to many exciting scientific developments beyond it.
Everyone will be familiar with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine story – making hundreds of millions of vaccine doses available to the world at cost – but there are many more. Here are just a few.
Wendy Talbott, Senior Director of Clinical Operations at Maryland-based Novavax, explained why the UK was identified as a suitable destination for their 15,000-patient study:
“We were aware that the UK had a health research system embedded in its national health service that could potentially help us enrol quickly, and this positively influenced our decision to conduct a trial in the UK. We were [also] keenly aware of the UK’s Urgent Public Health response and process. Our first port of call when bringing the trial to the UK, after the protocol was approved by MHRA, was to work with NIHR to ensure rapid recruitment and enrolment that would ideally provide a near-term view of NVX-CoV2373’s efficacy.”
New trials of heterologous vaccine combinations, including Novavax’s vaccine, are underway at the University of Oxford to facilitate more flexible vaccine delivery and booster strategies. And the vaccine is being manufactured by FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in North East England.
Funded by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK government, and others, and led by Oxford researchers, the RECOVERY trial is the world’s largest randomized clinical trial of potential coronavirus treatments. The UK’s interconnected healthcare and health research system offered a unique ability to deliver this multi-faceted clinical trial quickly and efficiently.
New York-based Regeneron decided to partner with the RECOVERY trial to increase its sample size as it evaluated its REGEN-COV antibody cocktail, and recently reported results. The RECOVERY trial also established that dexamethasone reduces morbidity in hospitalized patients. Overall, the RECOVERY trial has randomized almost 40,000 participants to date, and is still actively recruiting in more than 180 clinical sites in the UK and internationally.
The UK welcomes industry partnerships to join in the global fight against this disease. Recently, the UK Prime Minister announced the establishment of a new Antiviral Taskforce to oversee a search for simple Covid-19 treatments that can be taken at home. The aim is to develop novel medicines that could be given to anyone who tests positive or is directly exposed. Perhaps your company can be part of the next big US-UK success story.
About the Author
John Hoggard, Director of Healthcare and Life Sciences, North America, The UK’s Department for International Trade
John Hoggard leads the North American healthcare and life sciences division for the UK’s Department for International Trade. The team helps innovative US and Canadian companies identify and develop partnerships in the UK to accelerate their global growth. John is based at the British Embassy in Washington, DC.
This piece was submitted as part of the Global Marketplace at BIO Digital 2021. The NEW Global Marketplace at BIO Digital is designed to be the destination to showcase any region’s biotech strength and elevate its leading companies via high-energy, fast-paced presentations, coupled with live face-to face networking. Learn more here.