The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, a global initiative launched in March by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard, has announced three grants totaling $20 million in support of efforts to identify repurposed drugs and immunotherapies for COVID-19.
Grants to the University of Washington and University of Oxford will fund clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine — both of which have been used for half a century to treat malaria and a variety of rheumatological conditions — as pre- and post-exposure preventive therapy for COVID-19. UW, in collaboration with the New York University School of Medicine, will conduct a multi-site study in western Washington and the New York City area focused on whether hydroxychloroquine can effectively prevent the onset of COVID-19 in people already exposed to the virus via close contact with confirmed patients, while the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit will lead a placebo-controlled prophylaxis study of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in preventing COVID-19 in at-risk healthcare workers, frontline staff, and other high-risk groups. Participant enrollment will begin this month, with results of the study expected to be available in late 2020.
The accelerator also awarded $1.73 million to the La Jolla Institute for Immunology to establish a Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium (CoVIC), which will serve as a clearinghouse to advance understanding of which antibodies are most effective against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and accelerate the research pipeline to provide immunotherapeutics in a range of settings.
Launched with initial investments totaling $125 million from the three partner organizations, the accelerator has since received commitments of $25 million from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and £40 million ($49.6 million) from the government of the United Kingdom.
"These grants to leading institutions in their fields will advance our understanding of how existing drugs and antibodies can contribute to addressing the pandemic we're facing around the world," said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. "These initial investments through the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will bring rigor to the study of these potential solutions. The way forward will be informed by sound science and shared data."
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