COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide. The latest situation report from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that there are now more than 125,000 confirmed cases of the disease and more than 4,600 deaths. Several biotech companies are racing to find a vaccine or a treatment for the rapidly spreading disease.
One of these companies is Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:VIR), which focuses on developing treatments for infectious diseases. Recently, Vir announced it was partnering up with Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB) to develop and manufacture antibodies that could treat COVID-19. Given the gravity of the situation, the two companies decided to start working on this project while negotiating the terms of the deal.
Vir's experience with coronaviruses comes in handy
On Jan. 22, Vir announced it was screening its library of antibodies to identify one that could be effective against COVID-19. The company had previous experience dealing with other coronaviruses, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). On Feb. 12, Vir announced it identified two antibodies with the potential to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The company partnered with other companies in its quest to beat the potentially deadly disease. Vir entered into an agreement with WuXi Biologics, a China-based biologics technology platform that helps companies develop and manufacture drugs. According to the terms of the deal, WuXi Biologics "will conduct cell-line development, process and formulation development, and initial manufacturing for clinical development." WuXi Biologics will hold the right to market this treatment in China if it is approved, and Vir will market it in the rest of the world.