LONDON – The CEO of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis outlined on Wednesday how policy makers and the healthcare industry can learn from the coronavirus crisis to improve preparedness for a pandemic.
“Pandemics have been with us for centuries. If you look back in recorded history, likely on the order of 15 pandemics in the past 200-300 years future, “Novartis CEO Dr. Vas Narasimhan told Julianna Tatelbaum at the CNBC Evolve Global Summit.
“We know the solutions – it’s just very difficult to keep the investment going over time. We need world-class surveillance to really see when viruses are spreading from animal populations to humans, and we need a policy framework to get that information shared very quickly, “he said.
Narasimhan said health systems would need “warm preparation” such as supplies of protective equipment and manufacturing capacity in advance. It is also important to maintain stocks of critical goods to support patient care and continue to invest in therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics, he added.
“We know the answers and we know what has to happen. The tricky thing, I think, will be four.” [or] in five years. What often happens is that attention shifts from preparing for a pandemic, investments drop, and then vulnerability increases, “Narasimhan said.
A Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) officer manages the crowd while people in Phnom Penh relax on Jan.
TANG CHHIN SOTHY | AFP | Getty Images
“I’m optimistic this time around. I think this pandemic was really a wake-up call. I also think that from a therapeutic and diagnostic point of view we have better technology than ever, so hopefully the next pandemic will be even better.” . “
Narasimhan said the issue of future pandemic preparedness was discussed by health ministers and other biopharmaceutical executives at the G-7 health minister’s meeting earlier this month.
The Basel-based company has so far fallen short of its efforts to reuse existing drugs to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Novartis announced on Dec. 14 that a late-stage clinical trial of ruxolitinib in addition to standard therapy showed no statistically significant reduction in severe complications from Covid-19, including deaths and ICU admissions.
The company had previously said that late-stage studies of the anti-inflammatory drug canakinumab failed to help Covid patients.
Novartis recently announced that it would start clinical trials for an investigational drug for the treatment of Covid together with the Swiss drug manufacturer Molecular Partners.
The clinical study program, known as “empathy”, is intended to investigate the safety and effectiveness of Ensovibep in patients with an early stage of Covid infection. The aim is to prevent worsening symptoms and hospitalization.
400 patients will be enrolled in the first phase of the study to determine a dose with optimal safety, before a second late-stage study is conducted with an additional 1,700 patients. The results are expected in the first half of next year.
Covid cases worldwide
In the week ending June 15, the number of new Covid cases and deaths continued to decline, with more than 2.6 million cases and 72,000 deaths reported, according to the World Health Organization.
It was the lowest weekly incidence of cases since February, with weekly cases decreasing in all WHO regions except the African region compared to the previous week. The number of new deaths has decreased in all regions in Africa and Southeast Asia over the past week.
To date, more than 176.6 million Covid-19 cases with 3.82 million deaths have been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University.