Singapore Biotech Firm Hopes for ‘Widespread' Release of New Covid-19 Treatment by Early 2021

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  • Singapore-based Hummingbird Bioscience says its Covid-19 treatment could become widely available by early-2021.
  • The experimental antibody therapy aims to add to the "arsenal of options" needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic, co-founder Jerome Boyd-Kirkup told CNBC.
  • So far, Hummingbird 115 has undergone small-scale human tests, with phase three trials targeted for the end of the year.

SINGAPORE — A new Covid-19 treatment could become available in Singapore and beyond by early 2021 as homegrown biotech company Hummingbird Bioscience joins major names in making steps to combat the coronavirus.

The experimental antibody therapy, which works by "building a wall" around infected cells, aims to provide necessary treatment even as pharmaceutical giants make progress in vaccine development, the company's co-founder told CNBC Tuesday.

"The key to tackling this global pandemic is building an arsenal of options, both preventative like vaccines, and treatments ... like antibody therapies," Jerome Boyd-Kirkup said.

The treatment, dubbed Hummingbird 115, will offer a "really important option" within that arsenal, both in caring for patients before a vaccine is found, and in treating those who do not respond well once one becomes available, he continued.

The news comes as hopes of securing a coronavirus vaccine got a boost Monday, when U.S.-based Moderna said its experimental vaccine had proven 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19. It follows less than a week after U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and German partner BioNTech said their vaccine was more than 90% effective.

Small-scale human trials of Hummingbird 115 began in Singapore last month, after the company received approval from health authorities. Those tests are expected to progress to larger, phase three trials in Singapore and beyond by December, as the company targets a new year rollout of the treatment.

"We're aiming for early 2021 for widespread accessibility of this therapy to patients," said Boyd-Kirkup.

However, he added it's "a little early to speculate" what the treatment's pricing models may be.

Launched in Singapore in 2015, Hummingbird Bioscience has received $65 million from investors including South Korea's SK Holdings and Mirae Asset Capital to support its sites across Asia, Europe and the U.S. Boyd-Kirkup said the company is not bound by any distribution agreements, and is instead working with partners and regulators internationally to deliver treatments "where they're needed."

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