Latham-Led Biopharma Co. Gets $15M For COVID-19 Vaccine

By Sierra Jackson
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Law360 (May 22, 2020, 3:02 PM EDT) -- A Latham & Watkins LLP-advised Chinese biopharmaceutical company raised $15 million to continue its research on a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Sinovac Biotech Ltd. announced Friday that its subsidiary received two $7.5 million convertible loans from Chinese private equity funds Advantech Capital and Vivo Capital to continue the development of its CoronaVac vaccine.

The investment comes after Sinovac started phase 2 trials of the vaccine in China this month.

Weidong Yin, Sinovac's chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement that its successful development of vaccines for infectious diseases including the seasonal flu, H5N1 avian flu and H1N1 swine flu has aided its research on a coronavirus vaccine.

"The funding from Advantech Capital and Vivo Capital will provide us with the necessary resources to continue our work at this unprecedented pace," Yin said. "We are proud to be on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and appreciate the support of Advantech Capital and Vivo Capital as well as cooperation from all levels of the Chinese government."

Earlier this month, a paper published in the peer-reviewed Science journal by a group of Sinovac researchers showed that the company's CoronaVac vaccine completely or partially protected rhesus monkeys from several coronavirus strains. The vaccine is made using dead versions of the virus.

In April, the Chinese government approved the testing of the vaccine in humans in phase 1 trials that determined the vaccine's safety and impact on the immune system. Sinovac started phase 2 trials on a larger group of people this month to figure out the best dosage and immunization schedules for the vaccine.

Sinovac also said in the statement that it's building a manufacturing plant that will produce up to 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine each year.

The Chinese pharmaceutical company is among dozens that have jumped into the race to discover a coronavirus vaccine or treatment.

Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline PLC announced in April that they had teamed up to create a vaccine that will ramp up the body's creation of antibodies. The companies said if the vaccine performs well in phase 1 clinical trials, it would possibly be ready for widespread use by the second half of 2021.

This month, Gilead Science Inc. signed deals with five generic drug manufacturers in India and Pakistan to produce its remdesivir drug for 127 countries. The experimental antiviral drug has shown promise as a possible treatment for the coronavirus.

In March, a venture capital-founded Moderna Inc. worked with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to start the first clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine.

Representatives for Sinovac, Advantech Capital and Vivo Capital did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Sinovac is represented by Latham & Watkins LLP, with a corporate deal team led by Chicago partners Bradley Faris and Christopher Drewry and Hong Kong counsel Zheng Wang, with Chicago associate Joyce Li. Sinovac is also represented by Han Kun Kaw Offices.

Counsel information for Advantech Capital and Vivo Capital was not immediately available Friday.

--Additional reporting by Kevin Stawicki, McCord Pagan and Tiffany Hu. Editing by Stephen Berg.

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