Merck chief executive officer (CEO) Kenneth Frazier, who developed the Ebola vaccine, is confident that a vaccine can be developed to battle the pandemic and is even hoping that it can be manufactured in pill form. In an interview with Riley Griffin of Bloomberg carried by the Sydney Morning Herald on May 27, 2020, Frazier acknowledged that Merck had worked for six months to cut deals and secure US federal funding to develop vaccines against the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Frazier revealed that human testing on a US COVID-19 vaccine has shown promising results, adding “that No.1, these have to be vaccines that can be deployed broadly, globally. No. 2, and this is extremely important, these have to be vaccines that we have reasonable confidence could be effective with just a single dose. No. 3, we wanted to develop vaccines that used technology and platforms that have already been proven to work safely and effectively in people.”

He said Merck is ready to partner with other corporations and countries to distribute the cure to COVID-19 since the entire world is affected by the pandemic and all stakeholders must work together to win the war as one. Frazier said Merck worked on the Ebola vaccine to save more people. “We didn't think it would be a big seller in the United States or Europe,” he added.

Frazier admitted that Merck is also working on developing an antiviral pill for COVID-19 patients. “Why this agent? It's very potent. It's like remdesivir, which has been shown to improve outcomes in some patients, but importantly, this compound can be given in pill form, which would make it easier to use than remdesivir, and potentially earlier in the infections. If you give an oral drug, it gives you the potential to use it early, rather than something that's infused in the ICU. And if you have to produce billions of doses, producing pills for that is a lot easier than remdesivir,” he concluded. #COVID19

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