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EU opens funding-bids for new coronavirus technology

The spread of coronavirus throughout Europe is not only disrupting areas like the travel sector; it is also impacting on new pharmaceutical medicines, with launches of medicines for the treatment of diseases like cancer, HIV, and sickle cell disease, each likely to be delayed. This is because of delays with scheduling clinical trials and with gaining the required regulatory approval (both within Europe, from bodies like the European Medicines Agency, and with other regulators like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

According to PharmaPhorum, the first announced drug delay is with a medicine called Rybelsus (generic name: semaglutide), which is a type 2 diabetes pill. The delay not only affects patients but it will also impact upon its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, given that the medicine comes with an estimated sales prediction of $524 million.

READ MORE: Myth-busting: The worst of the coronavirus falsehoods

The European Commission has requested that startups to apply for funding from the European Innovation Council. The Council generally supports innovators and entrepreneurs with funding opportunities and advice. the 2020 budget stands at 164 million euros.

In relation to the March 2020 spending round, coronavirus linked-innovations are encouraged so that fast track funding can be granted to initiatives designed to help fight COVID-19 and the causative virus.

As examples, there is the Norway-based EpiShuttle project which is developing specialised isolation units,. These take the form of one-person hard-top polycarbonate reusable units; and Ambeent, a Turkish digital solution designed to track human mobility during epidemics.

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In related news, a number of not-for-profit organizations have backed a COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The aim of the project is to coordinate research and development initiatives into drugs to combat the betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It is hoped the technology hub will remove several traditional barriers to drug development and assist with rapid scale-up. the Accelerator aims to function as a go-between for governments, private enterprise and other philanthropic organisations. The latter includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plus the Wellcome medical charity, who with the backing of finance firm Mastercard, are putting up to $125 million to help develop new drugs.

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