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Throughout history, infectious diseases caused by pathogens have taken a devastating toll on the lives and security of people around the world. However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic comes challenges that have never been faced before. 

The biopharmaceutical industry is committed to the discovery and the development of treatments and development of vaccines for infectious diseases, despite their complicated nature. A new report finds that there are 421 medicines and vaccines in clinical development to treat or prevent viral infections that cause infectious diseases, including COVID-19. 

Among the candidates in development are:

  • A broad-spectrum antiviral medicine, with in vitro activity against Ebola, Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), is being studied as a treatment for COVID-19 infections.
  • Two messenger RNA (mRNA)-based vaccines are in development for the prevention of COVID-19 infections.
  • A long-acting injectable capsid inhibitor is being developed as an anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment for HIV infections.
  • A long-acting version of an oral integrase inhibitor is in development for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
  • An antibacterial is being developed as an oral treatment for drug-susceptible mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB).
  • A benzimidazole riboside compound is being developed for the treatment of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections in transplant patients.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also uncovering another area of concern: antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR is a natural process that occurs when microorganisms change in ways such that they are resistant to medications that were effective in curing infections caused by earlier, unchanged versions/strains of these same microorganisms. This creates a problem as a growing list of infections are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible to treat as the current arsenal of medicines are not effective in treating these new resistant strains of microorganisms.

As the fight against COVID-19 continues, the public health crisis due to AMR is also growing and research and development for new medicines to address it are dwindling. To address this issue, the biopharmaceutical industry recently launched the AMR Action Fund. This fund aims to bring two to four new antimicrobials to market by 2030, with a focus on innovative medicines that address the highest priority public health needs.

To tackle infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and AMR, America’s biopharmaceutical companies are committed to expanding scientific knowledge and new technologies to help meet the continuing – and ever-evolving – public health threats. Together, the industry is proactively working to identify potential medicines and vaccines to treat infectious diseases.