Health virus pharmaceutical defence Britain US 6 April 2020 - 19:13

UK companies team up to tackle coronavirus London, April 6, 2020 (AFP) - British pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline has teamed up with US peer Vir Biotechnology to find antibodies to help fight COVID-19 and "likely" future outbreaks, the pair announced Monday. It comes as UK defence engineering group Babcock said it was collaborating to make 10,000 ventilators, which are in short supply across the country that has seen more than 5,000 deaths from coronavirus. "GlaxoSmithKline plc and Vir Biotechnology, Inc. today announced they have signed a binding agreement to enter into a collaboration to research and develop solutions for coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19," said a statement. GSK will invest $250 million (228 million euros) into Vir to help "identify new anti-viral antibodies that could be used as therapeutic or preventative options to help address the current COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks", it added. Vir Biotechnology chief executive George Scangos said "it is likely that the current coronavirus outbreak will not be the last". Elsewhere on Monday, Babcock said it had been handed a government contract to manufacture 10,000 Zephyr Plus ventilators, in collaboration with an unnamed major international supplier of critical care ventilators. "Across many parts of Europe, as well as Australia and the UK, our aerial emergency medical services teams are playing a courageous role helping governments and health services fight the spread of COVID-19," it added in a statement. It comes as the UK government revealed that more than 5,000 people who tested positive for coronavirus had died in Britain, following a latest daily toll of 439. bcp/jh

Issue 84