The Biden-Harris administration has announced that the NIH has licensed COVID-19 research technologies and vaccine candidates to the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP).
Working with the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), the NIH will provide licenses to enable manufacturers to use the technologies to develop COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.
In total, NIH is providing 11 COVID-19 technologies under two licenses, bringing the number of technologies licenses to MPP to the following 14 items:
- A VSV-EBOV-based vaccine candidate. This SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate is based on a modified approved Ebola vaccine known as Ervebo from Merck & Co.
- ACE2 Dimer construct (Research tool for drug development). This technology is a plasmid encoding human ACE2 dimers, which refers to two conjoined copies of ACE2. ACE2 is a protein involved in COVID-19 infections. NIH notes that the research tool can help isolate antibodies generated against SARS-CoV-2.
- Diagnostic for SARS-CoV-2 and other RNA viruses. This diagnostic can detect SARS-CoV-2 and other RNA viruses using an RT-qPCR technique.
- ELISA antibody technology. Donated by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), this ELISA antibody technology can detect anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies from COVID-19 infection or a vaccine.
- High-throughput diagnostic test. This SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic can simultaneously scan thousands of biological patient samples and estimate each patient’s COVID-19 risk.
- Molnupiravir. Commercialized by Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Therapeutics, the COVID-19 antiviral has been authorized for emergency use in many countries internationally.
- Newcastle disease virus-like particles displaying prefusion-stabilized spikes. This virus-like particle vaccine induced robust immunity against SARS-CoV-2 in animal tests. The viral COVID-19 antiviral treatment nirmatrelvir is used in combination with low-dose ritonavir.
- Nirmatrelvir. Donated by Pfizer, nirmatrelvir is a crucial part of the COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid, which also incorporates low-dose ritonavir.
- Parainfluenza virus 3-based vaccine candidate. This nasal-spray-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate could be potentially used in infants and young children.
- Prefusion spike proteins. NIH has licensed these refusion coronavirus spike proteins and SARS-CoV-2 prefusion spike proteins to several companies for use in COVID-19 vaccines.
- Pseudotyping plasmid. This research tool can make pseudoviruses to facilitate COVID-19 vaccine development.
- RNASEH-assisted detection assay for RNA. This diagnostic tool can detect specific RNA sequences in under three hours.
- Structure-based design of spike immunogens. This research tool for vaccine development can assist in inducing SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.
- Synthetic humanized llama nanobody library and use. This research tool for drug development can also be used to develop diagnostics.
The initiative intends to help people in low- and middle-income countries deal with the pandemic.
“Low-income countries are struggling, and our strategy must continue to evolve with the virus,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
The NIH’s collection of COVID-19–related technologies at the heart of the deal include the SARS-CoV-2 stabilized spike protein, which pharma companies have incorporated into various COVID-19 vaccines.
“Controlling COVID-19 globally and addressing future public health threats is only possible if all communities, including the most vulnerable, have access to lifesaving treatments, vaccines and diagnostics,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a news release. “Sharing our scientific knowledge and health technologies with C-TAP to foster the development of crucial medical countermeasures is another step we are taking to assist our global partners in our shared fight against this devastating disease.”