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The Coronavirus’ Effect on the Biotech, Pharmaceuticals & Genetics Industry, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The Coronavirus pandemic created immense demand for preventative vaccines, and also for treatment therapies for patients suffering from the virus.  Billions of dollars are being invested in research.  A new drug therapy traditionally takes from 10 to 15 years to research, develop, put through clinical trials and get into the hands of doctors.  Historically, new vaccines have also taken as many as 10 years to get to market.
Continuing mutations of the virus, such as the Delta and Lambda variants, will keep Coronavirus research and vaccines at the forefront of the biotech industry for an extended period.  While the size of the Coronavirus vaccine market is currently hard to estimate, it is likely at least $40 billion for 2021.
With amazing speed, global demand and unprecedented levels of investment resulted in the production of a Coronavirus vaccine in less than 12 months.  In the U.S., the Trump administration launched “Operation Warp Speed,” making an historic push to bring vaccines and therapies to market quickly, with a goal of having 300 million doses of vaccine ready by January 2021.  Billions of federal dollars were made available for research and development at private companies.  Manufacturing capabilities had to be boosted at the same time.  
Meanwhile, cooperation by and between federal agencies and private companies soared in an effort to remove all unnecessary obstacles to new drug and vaccine development.  A number of existing drugs received emergency FDA approval as possible treatments for patients infected with the Coronavirus.
U.S. biotech company Moderna was the first to begin human trials in March 2020, followed by another conducted by Pfizer in partnership with BioNTech SE.  Both the Moderna and the Pfizer two-dose vaccines were authorized for emergency use in December 2020 in the U.S.  This was followed by the February 2021 authorization of a single-dose vaccine by Janssen Biotech, Inc., a unit of Johnson & Johnson.  As of mid-August 2021, 358 million doses of the three vaccines had been given (51.5% of the population was fully vaccinated) according to Our World in Data.
The SII/Covishield vaccine, developed and manufactured by the State Institute of India and SK Bio, received WHO approval in February 2021.  AstraZeneca/AZD1222, developed by the University of Oxford, its spin-off firm Vaccitech and AstraZeneca, was approved in February 2021 also.  In China, the Sinopharm vaccine was developed by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China National Biotech Group (CNBG).  It was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2021.  Another Chinese vaccine, Sinovac-Cornavac, developed by Sinovac Biotech Ltd., was approved by WHO in June 2021.  On a global basis, 4.8 billion vaccine doses had been given as of August 16, 2021.  1.86 billion, or 23.8% of the world’s population, was fully vaccinated according to Our World in Data.
On a global basis, four agencies (The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF) established a joint venture called COVAX in April 2020.  The mission of COVAX it to purchase enormous quantities of vaccines from major manufacturers and mete them out to countries around the world.  As of mid-2021, COVAX had agreements with manufacturers of 11 vaccines and planned to provide 2 billion doses by early 2022.  Funding comes from first world countries as well as private organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF and the World Bank.  COVAX was struggling to achieve its goals as of mid-2021, as pandemic numbers surged in India and were once again on the rise in the U.S. and elsewhere, creating supply shortfalls.
With new case numbers on the rise, many researchers were finding that the vaccines were becoming less effective over time.  In the U.S., as of August 2021, people 18 years or older are now eligible for a booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines beginning at least eight months after their second dose.

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