11th December 2020 Webcast
Emerging science in response to the pandemic

The content is intended for HealthCare Professionals for medical educational purposes only. The content is from a webcast that was initiated, organised and funded by AstraZeneca and was broadcasted on 11th December 2020. Expert opinion of the participating physicians are based on their experience to date managing COVID-19 in their respective home countries. Some therapies and product classes may not be available in your country. AstraZeneca is not responsible for, and may not necessarily agree with the views and opinions expressed by the participating physicians, and does not recommend any treatment or course of action. Please note the date and time of the webcast recording and seek local governmental advice for latest advice on diagnosis and treatment”.

 

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Dr. Christopher K.M. Hui M.B.E. F.R.C.P.(Moderator)

Consultant Physician – Respiratory, ID & Critical Care Medicine.
Matilda And War Memorial Hospital, Hong Kong

How Pharmaceutical companies can support the fight against global COVID-19

Pascal Soriot:: [00:00:00] Thank you, Prof. Hui, Prof. Zhong and to all of you for the opportunity to speak with you today, but most importantly, for everything you're doing to fight COVID-19. The work you're doing today really showing your experience is critical to the global effort to defeat this pandemic. In difficult times, the whole world should actually come together, and it's really energizing to see the Health Care Community take the lead and collaborate with each other. We are really grateful for all the experts, like all of you, willing to invest their time sharing their knowledge today.

[00:00:40] The pharmaceutical industry worldwide has also stepped up to contribute in many different ways, and it really has been a team effort. We've seen companies work together without worrying about who owns what and the information has been shared for everybody to use. If I speak about  AstraZeneca and how we stepped up ourselves, first of all, let me address what we've done as a contribution to the efforts of what I would call the heroes of today, the healthcare care workers around the world, who take care of patients.

[00:01:12] First of all, we bought 9 million masks very early in the epidemic, and we donated them to health care providers around the world. We've done that working with the World Economic Forum  (WEF), the World Health Organization (WHO)  of course, governments and yeah, high in the U.S to decide where the masks should go because we didn't know where the needs were. The great majority of those masks have been now distributed.

[00:01:35] The second thing is that many of our employees, medics, or nurses and other people would actually have volunteered their time. And our teams are supporting local communities who [inaudible] many of our doctors work in hospitals and we've put in place a program to allow them to do this, and of course, continue to be paid by the company.

[00:01:54] Our teams have done many different things for instance, in the UK, our organization has come up with the idea of refurbishing iPads and iPhones that we have donated to the NHS to enable people in hospitals to connect with their loved the ones that cannot visit. That is, as you know, better than I do an issue for patients who sometimes die without seeing their families.

[00:02:18] Another example of what our people have done in those [inaudible]. I have many other examples, an AZ employee in the U.S has developed a headband to help healthcare workers wear their masks, day after day without hurting their ears. We've had lots of great ideas coming up from the bottom up, from grassroots.

[00:02:39] We are also working hard trying to decrease the pressure on hospitals. You know very well, better than me, that health care systems are stretched. And in many countries, we have partnered with technology companies and hospitals to develop digital tools that facilitate remote follow-up of patients who have chronic conditions such as asthma.

[00:02:59] We've have advocated with governments for the temporary reimbursement of home injections of some products. For instance, in the U.S., you may know Medicare is now reimbursing the use of home administration of the so-called Part B products that are injectable products.

[00:03:14] Finally, we also shared our knowledge with health authorities for instance in the UK and Sweden. We've been collaborating with the health authorities in the development and implementation of an antigen testing and now we are working on that antibody testing. In the UK, in particular, we've been collaborating with GSK and The University of Cambridge to set up a testing center in Cambridge, actually, that just started operating and we aim to deliver 30,000 tests a day by early May.

[00:03:45] Well, this has been a really collaborative effort that was put together in about three days with GSK and The University of Cambridge and nobody's thinking about who was in charge of what the team really got together very quickly and we will deliver these 30,000 tests a day by early May. We are very much on time, and of course, we are donating the resources involved in this effort.

[00:04:08] Let me now turn to what - beyond donations - what we've done internally as a company. First of all, as you can imagine our absolute priority has been to maintain the supply of our medicines. We know very well that patients who suffer from an underlying condition such as Asthma, Hypertension, and Diabetes are more exposed. So we manufacture our products for the treatment of Asthma, COPD, Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer, and many other chronic conditions. This really has been a key priority for us, to ensure that our supply chains are not disrupted so patients can continue to receive their therapies.

[00:04:45] It may sound easy, but I can tell you it has been quite challenging because we have hundreds of our employees who had to be quarantined because they felt unwell went home and could not come back because our policy, based on CDC recommendations, was to stay home for two weeks. We got to a stage where we had 112 employees unable to come back to work in our factories, and we didn't have the tools to test them and so we didn't know whether they were infected or not. But our employees have really done an absolutely remarkable job and we've had no shortages. We were even able to supply the surge of demand for Asthma and COPD inhalers that we've experienced in many countries.

[00:05:27] What we've also done is we've supported our employees by protecting them. We use masks in our plants, not only in the GMP side of the plants but everything around the plants. When people are working there, they have to wear a mask now. We, of course, have made hand sanitizer and we have to manufacture them ourselves because they're on shortage. We are practicing social distancing as you can imagine and we're asking our office staff to work from home.

[00:05:56] We implemented childcare support for our employees who had their children at home in many countries where schools have been closed. As you know very well for hospital it's an issue but for companies, it's also an issue, people struggle with having to manage their job and also their kids who are at home. We offered childcare support. We even offered, in some countries, homeschooling for the children of our employees. We've rolled out additional video conferencing tools around the company to enable our people to work at full capacity.

[00:06:29] Finally, we developed our own antigen testing that has started working and we are offering this service to our employees at our main sites with, of course, the priority given to manufacturing sites, so we can now offer people the ability to test themselves to know whether they are infected or not when they have a doubt.

[00:06:50] Another important priority, of course, has been to think about the COVID negative patients. Everybody is so focused on COVID positive and new doctors in hospitals I'm sure you know better than me that COVID positive patients are the potential next health issue. And for us, developing medicines, new medicines, for severe diseases, our key priority has been to keep our projects going and our products, our new indications for our new products developed and approved. Of course, we've had to stop or pause a number of trials around the world, but we've tried to keep going with trials in countries where the epidemic was less impacting.

[00:07:34] Finally, I'd like to say a few words but we have also done addressing the disease itself and working on the disease and what we could do. The way we've looked at it has been kind of threefold if you want. Our view has been, that we need to deal with the virus. We also need to deal with the immune response that is [inaudible] killing patients in some cases. Finally, we thought, can we protect the organs during the course of the treatment.

[00:08:06] We are working on a monoclonal antibody. We have very talented antibody engineers and they're working on a long-acting antibody that actually can be used for prophylaxis but also treatment and we hope to have this in the clinic by the summer.

[00:08:37] For the immune response we have launched a randomized study using a BTK inhibitor. As you probably know, the BTK pathway is very upstream from this inflammatory cascade, and actually, we believe turning off this main switch will downregulate the production of many cytokines and chemokines. Not only IL-6, which everybody is focused on, but also IL-1, IL-7, and many others.

[00:09:13] Finally, in the hope of protecting kidneys and heart, we are using SGLT-2 inhibitor. We just launched a phase three randomized study in the U.S to explore the potential organ protection that this antigen could offer  COVID-19 patients.

[00:09:49] This is really the extent of what we've done and I have said it many times to our teams at AZ, they're really, truly, putting a heroic effort. Maintaining, keeping the company going, but also investing a lot of time and effort in fighting COVID and coming up with potentially new solutions.

[00:10:06] I find that the title of today's session is very appropriate and I have no doubt that we will soon come out of the darkness. And I can see plenty of light already, not least with how we are united to respond, but also there's a lifting of restrictions in Wuhan and many countries in Asia, but also, progressively, in Europe today.

[00:10:27] With your collective efforts, and your input, and your great experience, I'm sure we can accelerate the fight against COVID. Again today, I would like to thank you very much for your time and I look forward to a very stimulating session.

Professor Sarah Gilbert

Professor of Vaccinology in the Nuffield
Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford.

How Pharmaceutical companies can support the fight against global COVID-19

Pascal Soriot:: [00:00:00] Thank you, Prof. Hui, Prof. Zhong and to all of you for the opportunity to speak with you today, but most importantly, for everything you're doing to fight COVID-19. The work you're doing today really showing your experience is critical to the global effort to defeat this pandemic. In difficult times, the whole world should actually come together, and it's really energizing to see the Health Care Community take the lead and collaborate with each other. We are really grateful for all the experts, like all of you, willing to invest their time sharing their knowledge today.

[00:00:40] The pharmaceutical industry worldwide has also stepped up to contribute in many different ways, and it really has been a team effort. We've seen companies work together without worrying about who owns what and the information has been shared for everybody to use. If I speak about  AstraZeneca and how we stepped up ourselves, first of all, let me address what we've done as a contribution to the efforts of what I would call the heroes of today, the healthcare care workers around the world, who take care of patients.

[00:01:12] First of all, we bought 9 million masks very early in the epidemic, and we donated them to health care providers around the world. We've done that working with the World Economic Forum  (WEF), the World Health Organization (WHO)  of course, governments and yeah, high in the U.S to decide where the masks should go because we didn't know where the needs were. The great majority of those masks have been now distributed.

[00:01:35] The second thing is that many of our employees, medics, or nurses and other people would actually have volunteered their time. And our teams are supporting local communities who [inaudible] many of our doctors work in hospitals and we've put in place a program to allow them to do this, and of course, continue to be paid by the company.

[00:01:54] Our teams have done many different things for instance, in the UK, our organization has come up with the idea of refurbishing iPads and iPhones that we have donated to the NHS to enable people in hospitals to connect with their loved the ones that cannot visit. That is, as you know, better than I do an issue for patients who sometimes die without seeing their families.

[00:02:18] Another example of what our people have done in those [inaudible]. I have many other examples, an AZ employee in the U.S has developed a headband to help healthcare workers wear their masks, day after day without hurting their ears. We've had lots of great ideas coming up from the bottom up, from grassroots.

[00:02:39] We are also working hard trying to decrease the pressure on hospitals. You know very well, better than me, that health care systems are stretched. And in many countries, we have partnered with technology companies and hospitals to develop digital tools that facilitate remote follow-up of patients who have chronic conditions such as asthma.

[00:02:59] We've have advocated with governments for the temporary reimbursement of home injections of some products. For instance, in the U.S., you may know Medicare is now reimbursing the use of home administration of the so-called Part B products that are injectable products.

[00:03:14] Finally, we also shared our knowledge with health authorities for instance in the UK and Sweden. We've been collaborating with the health authorities in the development and implementation of an antigen testing and now we are working on that antibody testing. In the UK, in particular, we've been collaborating with GSK and The University of Cambridge to set up a testing center in Cambridge, actually, that just started operating and we aim to deliver 30,000 tests a day by early May.

[00:03:45] Well, this has been a really collaborative effort that was put together in about three days with GSK and The University of Cambridge and nobody's thinking about who was in charge of what the team really got together very quickly and we will deliver these 30,000 tests a day by early May. We are very much on time, and of course, we are donating the resources involved in this effort.

[00:04:08] Let me now turn to what - beyond donations - what we've done internally as a company. First of all, as you can imagine our absolute priority has been to maintain the supply of our medicines. We know very well that patients who suffer from an underlying condition such as Asthma, Hypertension, and Diabetes are more exposed. So we manufacture our products for the treatment of Asthma, COPD, Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer, and many other chronic conditions. This really has been a key priority for us, to ensure that our supply chains are not disrupted so patients can continue to receive their therapies.

[00:04:45] It may sound easy, but I can tell you it has been quite challenging because we have hundreds of our employees who had to be quarantined because they felt unwell went home and could not come back because our policy, based on CDC recommendations, was to stay home for two weeks. We got to a stage where we had 112 employees unable to come back to work in our factories, and we didn't have the tools to test them and so we didn't know whether they were infected or not. But our employees have really done an absolutely remarkable job and we've had no shortages. We were even able to supply the surge of demand for Asthma and COPD inhalers that we've experienced in many countries.

[00:05:27] What we've also done is we've supported our employees by protecting them. We use masks in our plants, not only in the GMP side of the plants but everything around the plants. When people are working there, they have to wear a mask now. We, of course, have made hand sanitizer and we have to manufacture them ourselves because they're on shortage. We are practicing social distancing as you can imagine and we're asking our office staff to work from home.

[00:05:56] We implemented childcare support for our employees who had their children at home in many countries where schools have been closed. As you know very well for hospital it's an issue but for companies, it's also an issue, people struggle with having to manage their job and also their kids who are at home. We offered childcare support. We even offered, in some countries, homeschooling for the children of our employees. We've rolled out additional video conferencing tools around the company to enable our people to work at full capacity.

[00:06:29] Finally, we developed our own antigen testing that has started working and we are offering this service to our employees at our main sites with, of course, the priority given to manufacturing sites, so we can now offer people the ability to test themselves to know whether they are infected or not when they have a doubt.

[00:06:50] Another important priority, of course, has been to think about the COVID negative patients. Everybody is so focused on COVID positive and new doctors in hospitals I'm sure you know better than me that COVID positive patients are the potential next health issue. And for us, developing medicines, new medicines, for severe diseases, our key priority has been to keep our projects going and our products, our new indications for our new products developed and approved. Of course, we've had to stop or pause a number of trials around the world, but we've tried to keep going with trials in countries where the epidemic was less impacting.

[00:07:34] Finally, I'd like to say a few words but we have also done addressing the disease itself and working on the disease and what we could do. The way we've looked at it has been kind of threefold if you want. Our view has been, that we need to deal with the virus. We also need to deal with the immune response that is [inaudible] killing patients in some cases. Finally, we thought, can we protect the organs during the course of the treatment.

[00:08:06] We are working on a monoclonal antibody. We have very talented antibody engineers and they're working on a long-acting antibody that actually can be used for prophylaxis but also treatment and we hope to have this in the clinic by the summer.

[00:08:37] For the immune response we have launched a randomized study using a BTK inhibitor. As you probably know, the BTK pathway is very upstream from this inflammatory cascade, and actually, we believe turning off this main switch will downregulate the production of many cytokines and chemokines. Not only IL-6, which everybody is focused on, but also IL-1, IL-7, and many others.

[00:09:13] Finally, in the hope of protecting kidneys and heart, we are using SGLT-2 inhibitor. We just launched a phase three randomized study in the U.S to explore the potential organ protection that this antigen could offer  COVID-19 patients.

[00:09:49] This is really the extent of what we've done and I have said it many times to our teams at AZ, they're really, truly, putting a heroic effort. Maintaining, keeping the company going, but also investing a lot of time and effort in fighting COVID and coming up with potentially new solutions.

[00:10:06] I find that the title of today's session is very appropriate and I have no doubt that we will soon come out of the darkness. And I can see plenty of light already, not least with how we are united to respond, but also there's a lifting of restrictions in Wuhan and many countries in Asia, but also, progressively, in Europe today.

[00:10:27] With your collective efforts, and your input, and your great experience, I'm sure we can accelerate the fight against COVID. Again today, I would like to thank you very much for your time and I look forward to a very stimulating session.

Professor Woo-Joo Kim, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases,
Department of Internal Medicine, Guro Hospital,
Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea

How Pharmaceutical companies can support the fight against global COVID-19

Pascal Soriot:: [00:00:00] Thank you, Prof. Hui, Prof. Zhong and to all of you for the opportunity to speak with you today, but most importantly, for everything you're doing to fight COVID-19. The work you're doing today really showing your experience is critical to the global effort to defeat this pandemic. In difficult times, the whole world should actually come together, and it's really energizing to see the Health Care Community take the lead and collaborate with each other. We are really grateful for all the experts, like all of you, willing to invest their time sharing their knowledge today.

[00:00:40] The pharmaceutical industry worldwide has also stepped up to contribute in many different ways, and it really has been a team effort. We've seen companies work together without worrying about who owns what and the information has been shared for everybody to use. If I speak about  AstraZeneca and how we stepped up ourselves, first of all, let me address what we've done as a contribution to the efforts of what I would call the heroes of today, the healthcare care workers around the world, who take care of patients.

[00:01:12] First of all, we bought 9 million masks very early in the epidemic, and we donated them to health care providers around the world. We've done that working with the World Economic Forum  (WEF), the World Health Organization (WHO)  of course, governments and yeah, high in the U.S to decide where the masks should go because we didn't know where the needs were. The great majority of those masks have been now distributed.

[00:01:35] The second thing is that many of our employees, medics, or nurses and other people would actually have volunteered their time. And our teams are supporting local communities who [inaudible] many of our doctors work in hospitals and we've put in place a program to allow them to do this, and of course, continue to be paid by the company.

[00:01:54] Our teams have done many different things for instance, in the UK, our organization has come up with the idea of refurbishing iPads and iPhones that we have donated to the NHS to enable people in hospitals to connect with their loved the ones that cannot visit. That is, as you know, better than I do an issue for patients who sometimes die without seeing their families.

[00:02:18] Another example of what our people have done in those [inaudible]. I have many other examples, an AZ employee in the U.S has developed a headband to help healthcare workers wear their masks, day after day without hurting their ears. We've had lots of great ideas coming up from the bottom up, from grassroots.

[00:02:39] We are also working hard trying to decrease the pressure on hospitals. You know very well, better than me, that health care systems are stretched. And in many countries, we have partnered with technology companies and hospitals to develop digital tools that facilitate remote follow-up of patients who have chronic conditions such as asthma.

[00:02:59] We've have advocated with governments for the temporary reimbursement of home injections of some products. For instance, in the U.S., you may know Medicare is now reimbursing the use of home administration of the so-called Part B products that are injectable products.

[00:03:14] Finally, we also shared our knowledge with health authorities for instance in the UK and Sweden. We've been collaborating with the health authorities in the development and implementation of an antigen testing and now we are working on that antibody testing. In the UK, in particular, we've been collaborating with GSK and The University of Cambridge to set up a testing center in Cambridge, actually, that just started operating and we aim to deliver 30,000 tests a day by early May.

[00:03:45] Well, this has been a really collaborative effort that was put together in about three days with GSK and The University of Cambridge and nobody's thinking about who was in charge of what the team really got together very quickly and we will deliver these 30,000 tests a day by early May. We are very much on time, and of course, we are donating the resources involved in this effort.

[00:04:08] Let me now turn to what - beyond donations - what we've done internally as a company. First of all, as you can imagine our absolute priority has been to maintain the supply of our medicines. We know very well that patients who suffer from an underlying condition such as Asthma, Hypertension, and Diabetes are more exposed. So we manufacture our products for the treatment of Asthma, COPD, Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer, and many other chronic conditions. This really has been a key priority for us, to ensure that our supply chains are not disrupted so patients can continue to receive their therapies.

[00:04:45] It may sound easy, but I can tell you it has been quite challenging because we have hundreds of our employees who had to be quarantined because they felt unwell went home and could not come back because our policy, based on CDC recommendations, was to stay home for two weeks. We got to a stage where we had 112 employees unable to come back to work in our factories, and we didn't have the tools to test them and so we didn't know whether they were infected or not. But our employees have really done an absolutely remarkable job and we've had no shortages. We were even able to supply the surge of demand for Asthma and COPD inhalers that we've experienced in many countries.

[00:05:27] What we've also done is we've supported our employees by protecting them. We use masks in our plants, not only in the GMP side of the plants but everything around the plants. When people are working there, they have to wear a mask now. We, of course, have made hand sanitizer and we have to manufacture them ourselves because they're on shortage. We are practicing social distancing as you can imagine and we're asking our office staff to work from home.

[00:05:56] We implemented childcare support for our employees who had their children at home in many countries where schools have been closed. As you know very well for hospital it's an issue but for companies, it's also an issue, people struggle with having to manage their job and also their kids who are at home. We offered childcare support. We even offered, in some countries, homeschooling for the children of our employees. We've rolled out additional video conferencing tools around the company to enable our people to work at full capacity.

[00:06:29] Finally, we developed our own antigen testing that has started working and we are offering this service to our employees at our main sites with, of course, the priority given to manufacturing sites, so we can now offer people the ability to test themselves to know whether they are infected or not when they have a doubt.

[00:06:50] Another important priority, of course, has been to think about the COVID negative patients. Everybody is so focused on COVID positive and new doctors in hospitals I'm sure you know better than me that COVID positive patients are the potential next health issue. And for us, developing medicines, new medicines, for severe diseases, our key priority has been to keep our projects going and our products, our new indications for our new products developed and approved. Of course, we've had to stop or pause a number of trials around the world, but we've tried to keep going with trials in countries where the epidemic was less impacting.

[00:07:34] Finally, I'd like to say a few words but we have also done addressing the disease itself and working on the disease and what we could do. The way we've looked at it has been kind of threefold if you want. Our view has been, that we need to deal with the virus. We also need to deal with the immune response that is [inaudible] killing patients in some cases. Finally, we thought, can we protect the organs during the course of the treatment.

[00:08:06] We are working on a monoclonal antibody. We have very talented antibody engineers and they're working on a long-acting antibody that actually can be used for prophylaxis but also treatment and we hope to have this in the clinic by the summer.

[00:08:37] For the immune response we have launched a randomized study using a BTK inhibitor. As you probably know, the BTK pathway is very upstream from this inflammatory cascade, and actually, we believe turning off this main switch will downregulate the production of many cytokines and chemokines. Not only IL-6, which everybody is focused on, but also IL-1, IL-7, and many others.

[00:09:13] Finally, in the hope of protecting kidneys and heart, we are using SGLT-2 inhibitor. We just launched a phase three randomized study in the U.S to explore the potential organ protection that this antigen could offer  COVID-19 patients.

[00:09:49] This is really the extent of what we've done and I have said it many times to our teams at AZ, they're really, truly, putting a heroic effort. Maintaining, keeping the company going, but also investing a lot of time and effort in fighting COVID and coming up with potentially new solutions.

[00:10:06] I find that the title of today's session is very appropriate and I have no doubt that we will soon come out of the darkness. And I can see plenty of light already, not least with how we are united to respond, but also there's a lifting of restrictions in Wuhan and many countries in Asia, but also, progressively, in Europe today.

[00:10:27] With your collective efforts, and your input, and your great experience, I'm sure we can accelerate the fight against COVID. Again today, I would like to thank you very much for your time and I look forward to a very stimulating session.

Professor Carlos Seas

Chief of Clinical Medicine, Department of Medicine,
Cayetano Heredia University, Lima, Peru.

Clinical Director of the Gorgas Course in Tropical Medicine,
Institute of Tropical Medicine "Alexander von Humboldt”, Lima, Peru

How Pharmaceutical companies can support the fight against global COVID-19

Pascal Soriot:: [00:00:00] Thank you, Prof. Hui, Prof. Zhong and to all of you for the opportunity to speak with you today, but most importantly, for everything you're doing to fight COVID-19. The work you're doing today really showing your experience is critical to the global effort to defeat this pandemic. In difficult times, the whole world should actually come together, and it's really energizing to see the Health Care Community take the lead and collaborate with each other. We are really grateful for all the experts, like all of you, willing to invest their time sharing their knowledge today.

[00:00:40] The pharmaceutical industry worldwide has also stepped up to contribute in many different ways, and it really has been a team effort. We've seen companies work together without worrying about who owns what and the information has been shared for everybody to use. If I speak about  AstraZeneca and how we stepped up ourselves, first of all, let me address what we've done as a contribution to the efforts of what I would call the heroes of today, the healthcare care workers around the world, who take care of patients.

[00:01:12] First of all, we bought 9 million masks very early in the epidemic, and we donated them to health care providers around the world. We've done that working with the World Economic Forum  (WEF), the World Health Organization (WHO)  of course, governments and yeah, high in the U.S to decide where the masks should go because we didn't know where the needs were. The great majority of those masks have been now distributed.

[00:01:35] The second thing is that many of our employees, medics, or nurses and other people would actually have volunteered their time. And our teams are supporting local communities who [inaudible] many of our doctors work in hospitals and we've put in place a program to allow them to do this, and of course, continue to be paid by the company.

[00:01:54] Our teams have done many different things for instance, in the UK, our organization has come up with the idea of refurbishing iPads and iPhones that we have donated to the NHS to enable people in hospitals to connect with their loved the ones that cannot visit. That is, as you know, better than I do an issue for patients who sometimes die without seeing their families.

[00:02:18] Another example of what our people have done in those [inaudible]. I have many other examples, an AZ employee in the U.S has developed a headband to help healthcare workers wear their masks, day after day without hurting their ears. We've had lots of great ideas coming up from the bottom up, from grassroots.

[00:02:39] We are also working hard trying to decrease the pressure on hospitals. You know very well, better than me, that health care systems are stretched. And in many countries, we have partnered with technology companies and hospitals to develop digital tools that facilitate remote follow-up of patients who have chronic conditions such as asthma.

[00:02:59] We've have advocated with governments for the temporary reimbursement of home injections of some products. For instance, in the U.S., you may know Medicare is now reimbursing the use of home administration of the so-called Part B products that are injectable products.

[00:03:14] Finally, we also shared our knowledge with health authorities for instance in the UK and Sweden. We've been collaborating with the health authorities in the development and implementation of an antigen testing and now we are working on that antibody testing. In the UK, in particular, we've been collaborating with GSK and The University of Cambridge to set up a testing center in Cambridge, actually, that just started operating and we aim to deliver 30,000 tests a day by early May.

[00:03:45] Well, this has been a really collaborative effort that was put together in about three days with GSK and The University of Cambridge and nobody's thinking about who was in charge of what the team really got together very quickly and we will deliver these 30,000 tests a day by early May. We are very much on time, and of course, we are donating the resources involved in this effort.

[00:04:08] Let me now turn to what - beyond donations - what we've done internally as a company. First of all, as you can imagine our absolute priority has been to maintain the supply of our medicines. We know very well that patients who suffer from an underlying condition such as Asthma, Hypertension, and Diabetes are more exposed. So we manufacture our products for the treatment of Asthma, COPD, Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer, and many other chronic conditions. This really has been a key priority for us, to ensure that our supply chains are not disrupted so patients can continue to receive their therapies.

[00:04:45] It may sound easy, but I can tell you it has been quite challenging because we have hundreds of our employees who had to be quarantined because they felt unwell went home and could not come back because our policy, based on CDC recommendations, was to stay home for two weeks. We got to a stage where we had 112 employees unable to come back to work in our factories, and we didn't have the tools to test them and so we didn't know whether they were infected or not. But our employees have really done an absolutely remarkable job and we've had no shortages. We were even able to supply the surge of demand for Asthma and COPD inhalers that we've experienced in many countries.

[00:05:27] What we've also done is we've supported our employees by protecting them. We use masks in our plants, not only in the GMP side of the plants but everything around the plants. When people are working there, they have to wear a mask now. We, of course, have made hand sanitizer and we have to manufacture them ourselves because they're on shortage. We are practicing social distancing as you can imagine and we're asking our office staff to work from home.

[00:05:56] We implemented childcare support for our employees who had their children at home in many countries where schools have been closed. As you know very well for hospital it's an issue but for companies, it's also an issue, people struggle with having to manage their job and also their kids who are at home. We offered childcare support. We even offered, in some countries, homeschooling for the children of our employees. We've rolled out additional video conferencing tools around the company to enable our people to work at full capacity.

[00:06:29] Finally, we developed our own antigen testing that has started working and we are offering this service to our employees at our main sites with, of course, the priority given to manufacturing sites, so we can now offer people the ability to test themselves to know whether they are infected or not when they have a doubt.

[00:06:50] Another important priority, of course, has been to think about the COVID negative patients. Everybody is so focused on COVID positive and new doctors in hospitals I'm sure you know better than me that COVID positive patients are the potential next health issue. And for us, developing medicines, new medicines, for severe diseases, our key priority has been to keep our projects going and our products, our new indications for our new products developed and approved. Of course, we've had to stop or pause a number of trials around the world, but we've tried to keep going with trials in countries where the epidemic was less impacting.

[00:07:34] Finally, I'd like to say a few words but we have also done addressing the disease itself and working on the disease and what we could do. The way we've looked at it has been kind of threefold if you want. Our view has been, that we need to deal with the virus. We also need to deal with the immune response that is [inaudible] killing patients in some cases. Finally, we thought, can we protect the organs during the course of the treatment.

[00:08:06] We are working on a monoclonal antibody. We have very talented antibody engineers and they're working on a long-acting antibody that actually can be used for prophylaxis but also treatment and we hope to have this in the clinic by the summer.

[00:08:37] For the immune response we have launched a randomized study using a BTK inhibitor. As you probably know, the BTK pathway is very upstream from this inflammatory cascade, and actually, we believe turning off this main switch will downregulate the production of many cytokines and chemokines. Not only IL-6, which everybody is focused on, but also IL-1, IL-7, and many others.

[00:09:13] Finally, in the hope of protecting kidneys and heart, we are using SGLT-2 inhibitor. We just launched a phase three randomized study in the U.S to explore the potential organ protection that this antigen could offer  COVID-19 patients.

[00:09:49] This is really the extent of what we've done and I have said it many times to our teams at AZ, they're really, truly, putting a heroic effort. Maintaining, keeping the company going, but also investing a lot of time and effort in fighting COVID and coming up with potentially new solutions.

[00:10:06] I find that the title of today's session is very appropriate and I have no doubt that we will soon come out of the darkness. And I can see plenty of light already, not least with how we are united to respond, but also there's a lifting of restrictions in Wuhan and many countries in Asia, but also, progressively, in Europe today.

[00:10:27] With your collective efforts, and your input, and your great experience, I'm sure we can accelerate the fight against COVID. Again today, I would like to thank you very much for your time and I look forward to a very stimulating session.

Dr. Otávio Berwanger, M.D., Ph.D.

Director, Academic Research Organization
Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, São Paulo-SP,
Brazil

How Pharmaceutical companies can support the fight against global COVID-19

Pascal Soriot:: [00:00:00] Thank you, Prof. Hui, Prof. Zhong and to all of you for the opportunity to speak with you today, but most importantly, for everything you're doing to fight COVID-19. The work you're doing today really showing your experience is critical to the global effort to defeat this pandemic. In difficult times, the whole world should actually come together, and it's really energizing to see the Health Care Community take the lead and collaborate with each other. We are really grateful for all the experts, like all of you, willing to invest their time sharing their knowledge today.

[00:00:40] The pharmaceutical industry worldwide has also stepped up to contribute in many different ways, and it really has been a team effort. We've seen companies work together without worrying about who owns what and the information has been shared for everybody to use. If I speak about  AstraZeneca and how we stepped up ourselves, first of all, let me address what we've done as a contribution to the efforts of what I would call the heroes of today, the healthcare care workers around the world, who take care of patients.

[00:01:12] First of all, we bought 9 million masks very early in the epidemic, and we donated them to health care providers around the world. We've done that working with the World Economic Forum  (WEF), the World Health Organization (WHO)  of course, governments and yeah, high in the U.S to decide where the masks should go because we didn't know where the needs were. The great majority of those masks have been now distributed.

[00:01:35] The second thing is that many of our employees, medics, or nurses and other people would actually have volunteered their time. And our teams are supporting local communities who [inaudible] many of our doctors work in hospitals and we've put in place a program to allow them to do this, and of course, continue to be paid by the company.

[00:01:54] Our teams have done many different things for instance, in the UK, our organization has come up with the idea of refurbishing iPads and iPhones that we have donated to the NHS to enable people in hospitals to connect with their loved the ones that cannot visit. That is, as you know, better than I do an issue for patients who sometimes die without seeing their families.

[00:02:18] Another example of what our people have done in those [inaudible]. I have many other examples, an AZ employee in the U.S has developed a headband to help healthcare workers wear their masks, day after day without hurting their ears. We've had lots of great ideas coming up from the bottom up, from grassroots.

[00:02:39] We are also working hard trying to decrease the pressure on hospitals. You know very well, better than me, that health care systems are stretched. And in many countries, we have partnered with technology companies and hospitals to develop digital tools that facilitate remote follow-up of patients who have chronic conditions such as asthma.

[00:02:59] We've have advocated with governments for the temporary reimbursement of home injections of some products. For instance, in the U.S., you may know Medicare is now reimbursing the use of home administration of the so-called Part B products that are injectable products.

[00:03:14] Finally, we also shared our knowledge with health authorities for instance in the UK and Sweden. We've been collaborating with the health authorities in the development and implementation of an antigen testing and now we are working on that antibody testing. In the UK, in particular, we've been collaborating with GSK and The University of Cambridge to set up a testing center in Cambridge, actually, that just started operating and we aim to deliver 30,000 tests a day by early May.

[00:03:45] Well, this has been a really collaborative effort that was put together in about three days with GSK and The University of Cambridge and nobody's thinking about who was in charge of what the team really got together very quickly and we will deliver these 30,000 tests a day by early May. We are very much on time, and of course, we are donating the resources involved in this effort.

[00:04:08] Let me now turn to what - beyond donations - what we've done internally as a company. First of all, as you can imagine our absolute priority has been to maintain the supply of our medicines. We know very well that patients who suffer from an underlying condition such as Asthma, Hypertension, and Diabetes are more exposed. So we manufacture our products for the treatment of Asthma, COPD, Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer, and many other chronic conditions. This really has been a key priority for us, to ensure that our supply chains are not disrupted so patients can continue to receive their therapies.

[00:04:45] It may sound easy, but I can tell you it has been quite challenging because we have hundreds of our employees who had to be quarantined because they felt unwell went home and could not come back because our policy, based on CDC recommendations, was to stay home for two weeks. We got to a stage where we had 112 employees unable to come back to work in our factories, and we didn't have the tools to test them and so we didn't know whether they were infected or not. But our employees have really done an absolutely remarkable job and we've had no shortages. We were even able to supply the surge of demand for Asthma and COPD inhalers that we've experienced in many countries.

[00:05:27] What we've also done is we've supported our employees by protecting them. We use masks in our plants, not only in the GMP side of the plants but everything around the plants. When people are working there, they have to wear a mask now. We, of course, have made hand sanitizer and we have to manufacture them ourselves because they're on shortage. We are practicing social distancing as you can imagine and we're asking our office staff to work from home.

[00:05:56] We implemented childcare support for our employees who had their children at home in many countries where schools have been closed. As you know very well for hospital it's an issue but for companies, it's also an issue, people struggle with having to manage their job and also their kids who are at home. We offered childcare support. We even offered, in some countries, homeschooling for the children of our employees. We've rolled out additional video conferencing tools around the company to enable our people to work at full capacity.

[00:06:29] Finally, we developed our own antigen testing that has started working and we are offering this service to our employees at our main sites with, of course, the priority given to manufacturing sites, so we can now offer people the ability to test themselves to know whether they are infected or not when they have a doubt.

[00:06:50] Another important priority, of course, has been to think about the COVID negative patients. Everybody is so focused on COVID positive and new doctors in hospitals I'm sure you know better than me that COVID positive patients are the potential next health issue. And for us, developing medicines, new medicines, for severe diseases, our key priority has been to keep our projects going and our products, our new indications for our new products developed and approved. Of course, we've had to stop or pause a number of trials around the world, but we've tried to keep going with trials in countries where the epidemic was less impacting.

[00:07:34] Finally, I'd like to say a few words but we have also done addressing the disease itself and working on the disease and what we could do. The way we've looked at it has been kind of threefold if you want. Our view has been, that we need to deal with the virus. We also need to deal with the immune response that is [inaudible] killing patients in some cases. Finally, we thought, can we protect the organs during the course of the treatment.

[00:08:06] We are working on a monoclonal antibody. We have very talented antibody engineers and they're working on a long-acting antibody that actually can be used for prophylaxis but also treatment and we hope to have this in the clinic by the summer.

[00:08:37] For the immune response we have launched a randomized study using a BTK inhibitor. As you probably know, the BTK pathway is very upstream from this inflammatory cascade, and actually, we believe turning off this main switch will downregulate the production of many cytokines and chemokines. Not only IL-6, which everybody is focused on, but also IL-1, IL-7, and many others.

[00:09:13] Finally, in the hope of protecting kidneys and heart, we are using SGLT-2 inhibitor. We just launched a phase three randomized study in the U.S to explore the potential organ protection that this antigen could offer  COVID-19 patients.

[00:09:49] This is really the extent of what we've done and I have said it many times to our teams at AZ, they're really, truly, putting a heroic effort. Maintaining, keeping the company going, but also investing a lot of time and effort in fighting COVID and coming up with potentially new solutions.

[00:10:06] I find that the title of today's session is very appropriate and I have no doubt that we will soon come out of the darkness. And I can see plenty of light already, not least with how we are united to respond, but also there's a lifting of restrictions in Wuhan and many countries in Asia, but also, progressively, in Europe today.

[00:10:27] With your collective efforts, and your input, and your great experience, I'm sure we can accelerate the fight against COVID. Again today, I would like to thank you very much for your time and I look forward to a very stimulating session.