Coronavirus – A Patent Update on the Outbreak

The latest corona virus attack is reminiscent of the deadly H1N1 influenza (Spanish Flu) that swept past the globe a hundred years ago, affecting 500 million people (almost one third of the global population at that time). In the distant past, when man had not been in a position to tame the furies, virus outbreaks in the form of smallpox and plague, used to decimate world population synergising the fratricidal wars. When our race checkmated poxes and Black Death, new virus strains, such as COVID 19 and HIV, make their debut to fill in the vacuum.

The latest version of corona virus has affected largely the northern hemisphere, especially the tropical and subtropical belt. The notorious Russian winter seems to barricade the country against the virus, when the Spring season comes increased UV radiations are likely to make the off-host survival rate much less for the virus in the affected regions.

The latest pandemic has its epicentre in Wuhan, a logistic and industrial nerve centre on the Yangtze and the Han. The panic triggered by the epidemic has come down heavily on the Chinese industry, casting a long shadow of despondency across the globe as a domino effect. The economic and human cost of the pandemic and the looming threat of similar editions of virus outbreaks have driven the research organizations to take on the challenge.

Figure 1: Patent Applications Published – By Jurisdiction [Click on image to enlarge]

It is remarkable that within a short span of time more than seven thousand patented publications have hit the market. This implies that the world is becoming more sensitive to the nuisance value of the viruses and the pharmaceutical and economic dimensions of the same. Figure 1 shows the geographical distribution of the patent publications related to Coronavirus.

At present, there are ten major players that are working on finding a solution for Coronaviruses, most of which are US-based with Pfizer and the US National Institute of Health taking the lead. In 2009 -10 period, when virus outbreaks became an alarming reality in the US, there was a surge in publications in the area.

Figure 2: Publishing Trends by Geographies [Click on image to enlarge]

The publishing and technology trends in the competitive world of pharmacology make interesting reading in the present context, as shown in Figure 2. Most of the researches are directed towards medicinal preparations containing antigens or antibodies (3,057), followed by antibiotics, antiseptics, chemotherapeutics (2,551). Other strategies include medicinal preparations containing organic active ingredients, mutation or genetic engineering, Peptides having more than 20 amino acids, Gastrins, Somatostatins and  Melanotropins, Medicinal preparations containing peptides and Viruses, Bacteriophages. There are various other approaches too, which did not claim much attention.

Virology and therapeutics pertaining to virus infections will remain to be a challenging arena given the propensity of the viruses to undergo mutation to trigger new epidemics. The characteristics of virus infection is that it defies antibiotics and facilitates secondary infections. As the secondary infections resulting from weakened immunity have a space for antibiotics, the scope of remedial measures is wide.

In effect, there is not a final solution in the tremendous world of pathology. But generation of vaccines to fight the epidemics as a pre-emptive measure has by far been effective in the past. The time span required for developing a vaccine has been impressively diminishing over the years. As the genetic sequence of the new virus is made available by China, a vaccine is expected to be developed within a month as labs are working on it world over.

Read the landscape report to get similar insights and a competitor study for patents related to Coronavirus. You can play around a categorization of major patents in the field by clicking the following link, coronavirus taxonomy.

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