Merck to develop 2 vaccines, license oral drug to combat COVID-19

Merck said May 26 it is developing two different COVID-19 vaccines and licensing an oral drug that may treat the virus, STAT reported. 

Merck is buying Thermis, a company based in Vienna, Austria, that has been developing an experimental COVID-19 vaccine based on a measles vaccine. Thermis is finishing up preclinical tests on the vaccine, and human studies are set to begin in France in a matter of weeks, STAT reported. 

Merck is also partnering with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, or IAVI, to develop a vaccine based on Merck's existing Ebola vaccine. That vaccine could enter human studies later this year, according to STAT.

The goal is to develop a single-dose vaccine for COVID-19, Roger Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories, told STAT

Merck is also licensing an experimental drug from a company called Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The drug was developed at Atlanta-based Emory University and was shown to be effective against the coronavirus in lab cultures and in mice. Phase 2 studies on the drug are set to begin this week, according to STAT

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