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Open Orphan subsidiary wins contract with the British government


Cathal Friel, chairman of Open Orphan

Cathal Friel, chairman of Open Orphan

Cathal Friel, chairman of Open Orphan

Hvivo, a subsidiary of Open Orphan, has won a contract with the UK government worth up to £10m (€11m).

The company is involved in the testing of vaccines and antivirals using human challenge studies.

The contract with the British government is to develop a Covid-19 human challenge study model.

The model development involves the manufacture of the challenge virus and the first-in-human characterisation study for the virus.

The contract starts immediately and could be worth approximately £10m (€11m) to Hvivo, depending upon the number of volunteers that are included in the study, according to a statement from the group.

Cathal Friel, chairman of Open Orphan, said: “We look forward to working with our partners to develop a COVID-19 human challenge study model which will be used to safely accelerate the discovery of effective vaccines and antivirals against Covid-19.”

"We hope our work will reduce the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and communities, and our thoughts go out to the many people whose lives have been affected by the pandemic."

Open Orphan also said the UK Government has secured the first three slots to test vaccines using Hvivo’s Covid-19 challenge study. Each slot reservation has been secured at a cost of £2.5m each bringing the total value of these slot reservations to £7.5m.

The study is expected to complete in May next year and is subject to regulatory and ethical approval.

It allows identification of the most appropriate dose of the challenge virus for use in future human challenge studies, which play a vital role in helping to develop vaccines and antivirals for infectious diseases such as Covid-19, the company said.

The study will be sponsored by Imperial College London and conducted by Hvivo at The Royal Free Hospital's specialist research unit in London.

Open Orphan reported a fall in revenue for the six months to June 30.

Revenue during the first half of this year was £7.4m (€8m), down from £11.6m (€12.7m) in the corresponding period last year, on a pro forma basis.

Open Orphan made a loss of £4.7m (€5m) for the six months to June 30. The same result was recorded in the first half of 2019, according to interim results released last month.

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At the time the company said it is targeting growth with strong operating cash flow in the second half of this year, and says it is on target to be operationally profitable in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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