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Vir, GlaxoSmithKline Widen Trials of Covid Treatment Candidate

Vir and GlaxoSmithKline are broadening the Phase 3 test of a coronavirus treatment candidate.

Vir Biotechnology  (VIR) - Get Vir Biotechnology, Inc. Report and GlaxoSmithKline  (GSK) - Get GlaxoSmithKline plc Sponsored ADR Report said they were expanding the Phase 3 test of their coronavirus-treatment candidate after the lead-in portion of the trial generated positive data.

The company will now expand to additional sites in North America, South America and Europe. 

“The rapid achievement of this important milestone reflects the urgency with which we’re mobilizing our resources in the hope of preventing the worst consequences of this deadly virus," said Vir Chief Executive George Scangos in a statement.

The candidate is being studied as an early treatment for covid-19 patients who are at a high risk of hospitalization. 

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The treatment is being evaluated on its potential to neutralize the virus, kill infected cells, provide a high barrier to resistance and achieve high concentrations in the lungs. 

The Phase 3 portion of the trial of VIR-7831 will test the safety and efficacy of a single shot of the drug or placebo in about 1,300 non-hospitalized participants globally. About 670 patients will participate in the placebo arm and 670 in the treatment arm of the trial. 

"We believe this neutralizing antibody’s high barrier to resistance, notable effector function and enhanced delivery into the lung suggest it has best-in-class potential in the fight against this global pandemic," said Hal Barron, a physician who is chief scientific officer and president of research and development at GSK.

Fears that remdesivir, an antiviral drug made by Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Report, could be in short supply globally are on the rise amid concern the United States currently holds much of the world’s available supply. Remdesivir is currently being used to treat President Donald Trump for covid-19. 

Reports of shortages of the drug, the best-known virus inhibitor for patients with severe covid-19, emerged on Tuesday, with hospitals in the Netherlands reporting they cannot currently order the drug from Gilead.