Chinese drugmakers pushed towards drugs for new COVID-19 variants
Some 19 COVID-19 drugs are in various phases of clinical development in the country.
The resurgence of COVID-19 in China caused by two new Omicron sub-variants has pushed the country to reinforce the emphasis on its zero-COVID policy while companies focus on creating COVID-19 drugs for new variants, according to a report from GlobalData.
GlobalData noted that there are 19 drugs in various phases of clinical development for the treatment of COVID-19 in China. Of these, five drugs are in the Phase III stage. Most of these drugs are targeting various subtypes of COVID-19 variants such as Delta and Omicron.
Anupama Mishra, pharma analyst at GlobalData, said the Omicron variant's sister lineages BA.5 and BA.2 have shown a rise in prevalence and have already spread across at least 25 countries, and these have been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a ‘variant of concern lineage under monitoring’.
Currently, there are only two COVID-19 antiviral drugs marketed in the country.
“Owing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in China, there will be demand for more antiviral therapies in future, potentially leading to limited supply. In the wake of rising demand, it is important to accelerate clinical development pathway against these variants to allow more access to effective therapies in China,” Mishra said.
According to GlobalData, as of 4 November, China had 2.93 million confirmed cases and 15,605 deaths due to COVID-19.
The companies developing COVID-19 drugs in China are preparing themselves to target the emerging variants, the report stated. Notably, six drug candidates developed by Chinese manufacturers are in late-stage clinical trials, which are targeting Omicron.
As new COVID-19 variants continue to resurge; it becomes very important for Chinese pharmaceutical companies to align their clinical research towards these variants, Mishra said.
“The pharmaceutical companies with potential efficacy against the rising new Omicron variants can have a potential competitive edge amidst the growing concerns of zero-COVID policy in China,” she said.