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Coronavirus: UK to trial saliva tests for asymptomatic cases, Evan Bioscences’ candidate enters Cambridge trial, R factor rises in Germany…

A look at Monday's major developments regarding coronavirus spread, testing and treatment

Avacta Group PLC - Coronavirus: UK to trial saliva tests for asymptomatic cases, Evan Bioscences’ candidate enters Cambridge trial, R factor rises in Germany…

The UK government is starting a pilot to test asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 by taking saliva tests.

The trial will involve over 14,000 healthcare staff, essential and university workers and their households in Southampton, England.

The test, provided by private firm OptiGene, requires to spit in a pot rather than taking a swab, with results available in 48 hours.

The government is also exploring partnerships with other companies such as Avacta Group PLC (LON:AVCT), Chronomics, MAP Science and Oxford Nanoimaging.

“Saliva testing could potentially make it even easier for people to take coronavirus tests at home, without having to use swabs,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“This trial will also help us learn if routine, at-home testing could pick up cases of the virus earlier.”

Evelo Biosciences’ candidate enters COVID-19 trial

Meanwhile, NASDAQ-listed Evelo Biosciences announced its candidate EDP1815 is to be included in a clinical trial sponsored by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The TACTIC-E trial is looking at evaluating experimental therapies in the prevention and treatment of life-threatening complications in hospitalised patients at early stages of the disease.

EDP1815, which has not been approved anywhere yet, is being investigated for inflammatory diseases.

R rises in Germany

In Germany, official figures revealed that the R number jumped to 2.88 on Sunday from 1.79 on Saturday and 1.06 on Friday.

The number indicates the reproductive rate of the virus, so according to Sunday’s number, every 100 infected people are likely to pass it on to another 288.

To contain the pandemic the R number must be below 1.

Gilead’s remdesivir generics approved in India

In India, the drug regulator approved a request by Hetero Labs and Cipla to produce the generic version of Gilead Sciences Inc’s (NASDAQ:GILD) investigational drug remdesivir.

Hetero would produce it under the name Covifor, sold at 5,000 to 6,000 rupees (US$66-US$79) for a 100 milligram dose, while Cipla’s would be called Cipremi.

The green light follows a deal between Gilead and five generic producers based in India and Pakistan to expand the supply of the drug.

The other three companies involved are Jubilant Life Sciences, Mylan and Ferozsons Laboratories.

Remdesivir is currently approved as emergency treatment for coronavirus in several countries after three trials confirmed it allows for a faster recovery.

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