We are closely watching the evolving clinical trial landscape for COVID-19, and each week the staggering volume of trials continues to increase. Last week, we saw the familiar addition of a large number of new trials1 but noticed that the number of unique assets may be plateauing: While many assets are adding additional trials across new geographies, the number of new entrants into the race to address the novel coronavirus may be slowing down.
Figure 1: The total number of trials for COVID-19 has grown steadily each week.1 When filtering for the unique assets under investigation globally, we observed a slowdown in growth.2
As researchers sought to find solutions early in the pandemic, many industry and academic scientists looked to “repurpose” previously approved products or clinical stage assets as an expedited way to jump-start the global search for a safe and effective treatment for the novel coronavirus. Essentially, researchers have scanned through assets that have already been developed, and initiated trials with those that may have an effect on the disease. We may be seeing that there are fewer assets remaining “on the shelf” to dust off and repurpose moving forward.
In the next few weeks, we expect to learn the results from some of the larger, industry-sponsored, repurposed product trials (like Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir and Roche/Genentech’s IL-6 inhibitor Actemra). We also will be watching as novel assets, a wave of which have been specifically developed for SARS-CoV-2, begin to trickle into the clinic. Many of these programs have advanced at record speed but are now joining the race behind the vast number of repurposed assets.
For additional information about the evolving COVID-19 pipeline, study results and milestones, please visit our visual COVID-19 vaccine and treatment pipeline tracker. Check back weekly as we provide an updated view of the clinical development landscape and advancements in the search for safe and effective tools to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.