Covaxx: Ending the Global Pandemic

Our Investment in a Coronavirus Diagnostic and Vaccine

Dakin Sloss
Mar 25, 2020 · 4 min read

We are leading the seed financing for Covaxx, a company commercializing a unique coronavirus diagnostic and vaccine to end the global pandemic. Tremendous resources are focused on the development of COVID-19 diagnostics and vaccines. Unfortunately other diagnostics, even ones widely available, will not do enough to resolve the current climate of fear and get our civilization back to work.

Most existing diagnostics, including the nasal swab test, have problems. They are not rapidly scalable, return significant false negatives, and only tell us if a person is actively infected rather than also telling us if the person has recovered and may now be immune. Identifying individuals who have developed some level of immunity is key to rapidly (1) returning individuals to business as usual, (2) reducing fear, and (3) getting the economy moving.

Therefore, what is now needed is a testing standard that goes beyond a positive/negative result. Specifically, we need a blood test diagnostic platform that provides close to 100% accurate results in only a few hours and is rapidly scalable based on existing manufacturing readiness, and most importantly provides the antibody information that will allow us to determine the following:

  1. Who has been exposed and has developed a level of immunity. These people should NOT be quarantined or isolated and can go back to work NOW! This group will grow rapidly and is key to returning to business as usual and to the development of “herd immunity.”
  2. Who has not yet been exposed. Those with low risk factors need to be careful (social distancing), but will be increasingly less likely to be infected as individuals from the first group become a larger portion of the population. The elderly and those with risk factors should continue to take extra precautions until receiving a vaccine or pending government guidance on reduced community spread.
  3. Who is actively infected now. These individuals must be quarantined, should be treated medically as needed, and should join the first group upon recovery.

This nuanced information is the only thing that will allow us to calm fear and make informed decisions about who should get back to work and keep this economy running.

The team at Covaxx is uniquely prepared to solve this problem. Covaxx’s parent company United Biomedical has been on the front lines of COVID-19 for many months now. Their reliable, safe diagnostic platform has already deployed over a hundred thousand COVID-19 antibody tests across China (Hubei, Beijing, Shanghai) and the US. They have a proven track record of safety and scalability and have manufactured and sold millions of blood diagnostics through global distribution partners such as Organon Teknika and BioMerieux. In response to the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak, they developed a similar antibody test with support from NIH (see attached paper).

They are currently deploying their COVID-19 tests across the entire San Miguel County, CO population (article link), which will ideally become the standard for how to “clean a location” and get everyone back to work and out of paralyzing fear. The results may also show that there is a large percentage of patients who test positive for antibodies (with no symptoms) and after 14 days (with no symptoms) can get back to life as usual. We suspect this data set will also show that there is a larger number of patients exposed to COVID-19 than previously confirmed, which will mean a higher prevalence rate and, in turn a lower mortality rate than being reported today. Both of these pieces of information will immediately lower fear and boost the economy. With the right support/strategic relationships (eg their multinational distribution partner), along with their FDA/GMP approved manufacturing plant in New York, they can scale to tens of millions of tests in relatively short order.

In addition to the diagnostic approach described above, they are already completing animal testing of a COVID-19 vaccine which can enter human trials in a few weeks. We estimate they could be ready for full deployment in 12–18 months, however, with appropriate FDA and Executive support, they could accelerate this process dramatically. Here’s why…

  • They have a commercially proven track record of safety and scalability, and our sister company, an animal health subsidiary of United Biomedical, vaccinates 25% of the world’s pigs for Foot and Mouth Disease.
  • Over the past 30 years, they have produced over 4 billion vaccine doses and currently provide vaccinations for approximately 500 million animals per year.
  • Their manufacturing technology and scale allows them to sell the vaccine as the lowest cost producer.
  • Their peptide-based platform technology is extremely safe as demonstrated by our current Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other vaccines which are in various phases of FDA trials.

We are thrilled to be contributing to transforming billions of lives by helping to end the global coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Movers Lab invests in breakthrough scientific startups founded by Prime Movers, the inventors who transform billions of lives. We invest in seed-stage companies reinventing energy, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, human augmentation and computing.

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