As of this morning - Wednesday 18th March - the current case count for COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the UK has hit 1950, with 71 deaths and 65 recoveries.

Despite multiple big players in pharma lending a hand to develop vaccines, donate funding and generally get the ball rolling, GlobalData’s senior medical reporter Allie Nawrat has predicted that the advent of a widely available vaccine could “likely take at least a year”, after a readers poll showed that “33% of readers believe it will take over a year, while 28% are optimistic there could be a vaccine available within three months.”

Nawrat continues to explain that “experts are clear that it will take at least a year for a vaccine to be developed against Covid-19,” saying that the situation is “not helped by the likelihood that the virus has already mutated into two strains.”

Among the latest companies to join in efforts are Pfizer and BioNTech, who have agreed to co-develop an mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine aimed at preventing infection, building on a previous R&D collaboration focused on influenza.

The companies say the partnership covers BioNTech's mRNA vaccine programme BNT162, which is expected to enter clinical testing by the end of April.

"We believe that by pairing Pfizer's development, regulatory and commercial capabilities with BioNTech's mRNA vaccine technology and expertise, we are reinforcing our commitment to do everything we can to combat this escalating pandemic, as quickly as possible," commented Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's chief scientific officer.

Further, Regeneron has revealed plans to enter clinical studies by early summer for a multi-antibody cocktail that can be administered as prophylaxis before exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or as treatment for those already infected.

Scientists from the company have now isolated hundreds of virus-neutralising, fully human antibodies from the company's VelocImmune mice, which have been genetically-modified to have a human immune system.

In order to meet the pressing public health need, Regeneron is applying its VelociMab technology to prepare manufacturing-ready cell lines as lead antibodies are selected, so that clinical-scale production can begin immediately.

Finally, Synairgen has confirmed plans to start a trial of SNG001 in COVID-19 imminently, having received expedited approvals from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Health Research Authority (HRA).

COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is a global threat and there is an urgent need to assess new treatments to prevent and effectively treat the severe lower respiratory tract illness that can occur with this disease. Older people and those with co-morbidities such as heart and lung complications or diabetes are at greatest risk of developing severe or fatal disease.