Ho­gan com­mends statewide ef­fort to find COVID vac­cine

The Dundalk Eagle - - EDITORIAL -

Gover­nor Larry Ho­gan to­day com­mended the nearly 40 Mary­land life sciences com­pa­nies that are work­ing on de­vel­op­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing COVID-19 vac­cines and ther­a­peu­tics, im­prov­ing di­ag­nos­tic tests, and pro­vid­ing clin­i­cal re­search and tech­no­log­i­cal sup­port to en­sure safe and ef­fec­tive health care de­liv­ery.

The Uni­ver­sity Sys­tem of Mary­land and Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity have also ded­i­cated mil­lions of dol­lars to­ward re­search, test­ing, and clin­i­cal tri­als. The Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land School of Medicine re­cently be­gan phase 3 tri­als of a COVID-19 vac­cine.

“On the day of our first coro­n­avirus cases, I said that Mary­land was home to some of the top health re­search fa­cil­i­ties in the world, and vowed that we would be a part of de­vel­op­ing treat­ments and per­haps even a vac­cine for this deadly virus,” said Gover­nor Ho­gan. “I want to com­mend our world-class life sciences com­mu­nity, our uni­ver­si­ties, and fed­eral re­search labs for work­ing to­gether to fight this un­prece­dented global pan­demic. Our state will con­tinue to lead on the road to re­cov­ery.”

To date, Mary­land’s life sciences com­pa­nies have se­cured more than $3 bil­lion for the de­vel­op­ment of a vac­cine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Gaithers­burg-based No­vavax was awarded $1.6 bil­lion through Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed to com­plete late-stage clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment, es­tab­lish large-scale man­u­fac­tur­ing, and de­liver 100 mil­lion vac­cine doses as early as late 2020, as well as $388 mil­lion from the in­ter­na­tional Coali­tion for Epi­demic Pre­pared­ness In­no­va­tions and $60 mil­lion through a U.S. De­part­ment of De­fense con­tract to sup­port vac­cine pro­duc­tion.

Emer­gent BioSo­lu­tions, with its head­quar­ters and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­ity also based in Gaithers­burg and three man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties in Bal­ti­more and Rockville, an­nounced it signed con­tracts with As­traZeneca, John­son & John­son, No­vavax, and Vaxart as well as with Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed for a to­tal of $1.5 bil­lion to sup­port COVID-19 vac­cine can­di­date de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Bethesda-based Longhorn Vac­cines and Di­ag­nos­tics won a $225 mil­lion U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity con­tract to trans­port clin­i­cal sam­ples to test­ing labs.

Al­tim­mune, head­quar­tered in Gaithers­burg, was awarded a $4.7 mil­lion con­tract from the U.S. Army Med­i­cal Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Com­mand and is work­ing with Rockville­based Vi­gene Bio­sciences on the de­vel­op­ment of a sin­gle-dose in­tranasal COVID-19 vac­cine.

“Emer­gent is proud to be a part of Mary­land’s ef­forts to fight the COVID-19 pan­demic,” said Robert G. Kramer, pres­i­dent and CEO of Emer­gent BioSo­lu­tions. “Mary­land’s life sciences clus­ter en­hances our abil­ity to part­ner with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and biotech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tors.

“Along with our long­stand­ing part­ner­ship with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in sup­port of its ef­forts to com­bat pub­lic health threats, we are uniquely po­si­tioned to work quickly to help ad­vance vac­cine and hy­per­im­mune ther­a­peu­tic can­di­dates.”

“We are grate­ful to be part of Mary­land’s col­lab­o­ra­tive life sciences clus­ter that, to­gether with the state’s su­perb aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions, is mak­ing rapid progress in the fight against COVID-19,” said Stan­ley C. Erck, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of No­vavax. “No­vavax’s swift re­sponse in de­vel­op­ing one of the world’s most promis­ing vac­cines for this pan­demic is a tes­ta­ment to the value of these close re­la­tion­ships, rich lo­cal re­sources, and gov­ern­ment sup­port in ef­fec­tively ad­dress­ing press­ing pub­lic health needs.”

The Uni­ver­sity Sys­tem of Mary­land and Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity both mo­bi­lized quickly to de­velop a com­pre­hen­sive re­sponse to the pan­demic. Johns Hop­kins ded­i­cated $6 mil­lion in fund­ing to sup­port about 260 sci­en­tists and re­searchers work­ing on more than two dozen projects re­lated to COVID-19. In ad­di­tion, Hop­kins’ School of Medicine is con­duct­ing more than 100 clin­i­cal stud­ies to de­velop COVID-19 di­ag­nos­tics and, with $35 mil­lion from the U.S. De­part­ment of De­fense, is work­ing with the Bloomberg School of Pub­lic Health to test the ef­fi­cacy of blood plasma from COVID-19 sur­vivors as a treat­ment op­tion.

The Uni­ver­sity Sys­tem of Mary­land fac­ulty are work­ing to de­velop a rapid COVID-19 test and are con­duct­ing a clin­i­cal trial of ex­per­i­men­tal stem cell ther­apy to re­duce death in the sick­est pa­tients. The Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land School of Medicine will re­ceive up to $3.6 mil­lion over the next year from the De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Projects Agency to rapidly test hun­dreds of drugs, ap­proved and mar­keted for other con­di­tions, to see if any can be re­pur­posed to pre­vent and treat COVID-19.

“It’s in crises like these that you see why Mary­land is one of the coun­try’s top bio­sciences hubs,” said Uni­ver­sity Sys­tem of Mary­land Chan­cel­lor Jay A. Per­man. “Our USM in­sti­tu­tions are on the front lines de­vel­op­ing COVID-19 di­ag­nos­tics and ther­a­peu­tics, test­ing mul­ti­ple vac­cines, lead­ing dozens of other R&D projects. But they’re also reach­ing out to our close in­dus­try part­ners, join­ing our as­sets and ex­per­tise to theirs so we can quickly com­mer­cial­ize COVID-19 so­lu­tions. There are few states that have the breadth and depth of our life sciences tal­ent, and fewer still that have an ecosys­tem like ours that thrives on col­lab­o­ra­tion.”

“As we con­front a global pan­demic on a scale not ex­pe­ri­enced since the 1918 flu, it is re­mark­able to see the ex­tra­or­di­nary depth and breadth of ex­per­tise be­ing gal­va­nized against COVID from right here in Mary­land,” said Ron Daniels, pres­i­dent of Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity. “Johns Hop­kins re­searchers quickly mo­bi­lized to launch an emer­gency, cross-di­vi­sional COVID-19 re­search pro­gram to stem the tide of the virus and save lives.

“From in­ves­ti­gat­ing the un­der­ly­ing bi­ol­ogy and de­vel­op­ing treat­ments for the dis­ease to ad­dress­ing its dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, and re­port­ing rig­or­ous data about its spread, Hop­kins re­searchers are at the fore­front of the fight to stop COVID-19.”

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