London: COVID-19 resurgence in China is a great concern globally due to the presence of two new Omicron sub-variants—BF.7 and BA.5.1.7, as they are highly infectious with greater transmissibility. As a result, the country has reinforced emphasis on its zero-COVID policy. Against this backdrop, Chinese companies COVID-19 drugs pipeline focus on new variants, observes GlobalData.
According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Centre, there are 19 drugs in various phases of clinical development for the treatment of COVID-19 in China. Of these, five drugs are in Phase III stage. Most of these drugs are targeting various subtypes of COVID-19 variants such as Delta and Omicron.
Anupama Mishra, Pharma Analyst, GlobalData, commented “Notably, the Omicron variants sister lineages BA.5 and BA.2 have shown rise in prevalence and have already spread across at least 25 countries. These variant lineages have been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a ‘variant of concern lineage under monitoring’.
“Currently, there are only two COVID-19 antiviral drugs, Pfizer’s paxlovid and Genuine Biotech’s azuvidine, marketed in China. Both drugs have shown efficacy against the Omicron variant. However, owing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in China, there will be demand for more antiviral therapies in future, potentially leading to limited supply. In the wake of rising demand, it is important to accelerate clinical development pathway against these variants to allow more access to effective therapies in China” she added.
Earlier in June 2022, an open, prospective cohort study of Junshi Biosciences’ VV116 in Chinese patients infected with COVID-19 Omicron variants demonstrated safety and efficacy of the oral antiviral drug within the early onset of infection. Jushni Bioscience’VV116 is currently being evaluated in Phase III clinical trial for treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19. Kintor Pharmaceutical’s proxalutamide has also shown COVID-19 viral load reduction against both delta and Omicron variants in the top-line results of its Phase III clinical trial.
The companies developing COVID-19 drugs in China are preparing themselves to target the emerging variants. Notably, six drug candidates developed by Chinese manufacturers are in late-stage clinical trials, which are targeting Omicron.
“As new COVID-19 variants continue to resurge; it becomes very important for Chinese pharmaceutical companies to align their clinical research towards these variants. The pharmaceutical companies with potential efficacy against the rising new Omicron variants can have potential competitive edge amidst the growing concerns of zero-COVID policy in China” Mishra concluded.