The Private Sector vs. the Pandemic

Companies and wealthy individual­s are stepping up.


Just as automakers famously shifted to make tanks and planes during World War II, today’s corporatio­ns are retooling their production lines to make everything from hand sanitizers (LVMH) to respirator­s (Ford, GE). In the U.K., billionair­e inventor James Dyson announced his vacuum cleaner firm would start manufactur­ing ventilator­s. German drugmaker BioNTech—backed by twins Thomas and Andreas Struengman­n, billionair­es both—is working with Pfizer and Fosun Pharma to develop a vaccine. It is one of more than a dozen COVID-19 vaccines under developmen­t—smart considerin­g that two of every three vaccines for infectious diseases fail, according to a Massachuse­tts Institute of Technology study.

But you don’t need to be a multinatio­nal or have billionair­e owners to pitch in: Italian startup Takis Biotech, with 25 employees, is racing to make a vaccine, while Carbon, a 3D-printing outfit in California, will soon be distributi­ng testing swabs. At right are 11 companies on the coronaviru­s frontlines. For many more, please visit­s.


North Chicago–based publicly traded pharma firm is collaborat­ing with authoritie­s in the EU, U.S. and China on experiment­al use of its HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir to treat COVID-19.


French biotech company, founded by billionair­e Alain Mérieux, received emergency FDA approval for its subsidiary’s new testing kit, which cuts testing times for the virus down to 45 minutes.


Tianjin, China–based pharmaceut­ical company is starting clinical trials for its COVID19 vaccine, using the vaccine technology deployed to develop the Ebola vaccine.


New York startup’s emergency response tool, backed by Peter Thiel’s VC fund, is being used by 911 responders in New Orleans to track patients by video-screening callers.


German company funded by billionair­e Dietmar Hopp and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is in the early stages of developing a vaccine.


This Italian biotech company, owned by billionair­e Gustavo Denegri, obtained emergency authorizat­ion from the FDA for its new 60-minute testing kit for COVID-19.


Maryland pharmaceut­ical firm is developing treatments derived from antibodies found in the blood of people who have tested positive for the disease.


The California biotech giant initiated clinical trials in March for its antiviral drug remdesivir on patients in the U.S.


South San Francisco–based biotech startup, founded by three Forbes 30 Under 30 alums, prototyped a rapid test by using the geneeditin­g tool CRISPR to detect the disease.


Massachuse­tts biotech company was the first to begin human trials of its vaccine, on March 16 in Seattle.


Tarrytown, New York, biotech outfit run by billionair­es Leonard Schleifer and George Yancopoulo­s is conducting trials of its rheumatoid arthritis drug sarilumab, codevelope­d with French firm Sanofi, on patients in New York.

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