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Vir Biotechnology

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Vir Biotechnology Inc. is a public, clinical-stage immunology company focused on treating and preventing infectious diseases, most notable for developing and distributing Sotrovimab in partnership with GSK.[1][2] The company's pipeline consists of product candidates targeting SARS-CoV-2, hepatitis B virus, influenza A[3], human immunodeficiency virus, and tuberculosis. The current CEO is former Biogen head George Scangos, Ph.D. [4][5]


Vir Biotechnology was founded in 2016 and successfully completed a round of financing exceeding US$500 million. Shortly after this event, Vir announced it would acquire Humabs BioMed, an antibody engineering biotechnology firm in Belinzona, Switzerland. [6] This acquisition expanded the pipeline of Vir significantly, adding more than 15 antibody development candidates targeting pathogens both within the initial scope of Vir’s mission (MPV, HBV, RSV, IAV), but also beyond (Zika, Dengue).[7] Humabs maintains facilities in Belinzona as of 2022, and routinely collaborates with the local Institute for Research in Biomedicine.

In 2017 Vir announced an option partnership with Visterra for an IAV monoclonal antibody product (VIS410), which received significant funding from BARDA. Also in 2017, Vir announced the initiation of a collaboration with Alnylam for licensing of RNAi therapeutics targeting infectious diseases including HBV and four unspecified agents.[8] This same year, four partnerships with major research institutions were announced, including Harvard University, Stanford University, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Oregon Health and Science University.[9] Also in 2017, former Biogen VP Howard Horn joined the company as its CFO, subsequently spearheading fundraising efforts.[10]

Vir filed for initial public offering in 2018 backed by SoftBank, with a starting share price of US$20.[11] The IPO was underwritten by Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Cowen, and Barclays. The IPO occurred after the WeWork IPO scandal, with shares tumbling amidst a more debut-hostile market environment.[12]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Vir Bio began developing several candidates targeting SARS-CoV-2.[13] The company identified VIR-7831, a monoclonal antibody that binds to the Spike glycoprotein of the virus, as a promising candidate for clinical trials. This sparked a partnership with GSK which precipitated a Phase 3 clinical trial (COMET-ICE) for VIR-7831 treatment of patients with severe COVID-19.[14] Development from candidate to international clinical trial progressed in a total of 6 months.[15]

Following endpoint achievement (85% reduction in disease progression, hospitalization or death) in the COMET-ICE trial, VIR-7831 was commercialized as Sotrovimab and distributed by GSK.[16][17] The drug was authorized by the US FDA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services announced two purchase initiatives of $1 billion and 600,000 doses in November 2021 and January 2022 respectively.[18] Sotrovimab was deauthorized by HHS in 2022 after the emergence of the resistant BA.2 SARS-CoV-2 variant.[19] Before deauthorization, 2 million doses were distributed and approximately $1.1 billion in revenues were realized.

Vir announced in October 2022 a BARDA contract to develop countermeasures against IAV and other emerging infectious diseases, the total value of which may reach $1 billion.[3] Vir was also a featured participant during BARDAs 'Industry Day' in November 2022.[20]

In November 2022 Vir was ranked the #1 fastest growing company in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500.[21]

On January 25th, 2023 it was announced that longtime CEO George Scangos would retire and be replaced by Marianne De Backer, Ph.D.[22] Previously De Backer led business strategy at Bayer Pharmaceutical.[23][24]


As of 2022, Vir Biotechnology continues to manufacture and distribute Sotrovimab, however the FDA has deauthorized the drug given reduced binding affinity for the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Vir is currently developing several candidates targeting HIV, HBV, Influenza A, and SARS-CoV-2. These drugs are based on the four technology platforms Vir utilizes: small molecules, interfering RNA, monoclonal antibodies, and CMV vectors.[25] Ongoing clinical trials include HBV, HDV, and IAV antivirals.[26][27]

Researchers at Vir regularly publish in scientific journals, a somewhat unusual feature for a biotechnology company. Major publication include studies focusing on antibody neutralization of SARS-CoV-2[28], unique binding modalities between human cells and SARS-CoV-2 virions [29], and technical studies analyzing best practices for broadly-neutralizing antibody isolation for therapeutic development.[30]


  1. "Former Biogen CEO to Helm Newly Launched Bay Area Startup Vir Biotechnology". BioSpace. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  2. Johnson, Carolyn Y. "As the omicron variant threatens to wipe out monoclonal antibodies, the U.S. is saving up one that will still work". Washington Post.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Vir Biotech gets U.S. funding for flu-prevention antibody". Reuters. 2022-10-04. Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  4. Weintraub, Arlene (2021-01-12). "Fierce JPM Week: Vir CEO Scangos on competing in the COVID antibody space—and life beyond the pandemic". Fierce Biotech. Retrieved 2022-10-20.
  5. "Three Profiles: When Big Pharma Execs Opt to Lead Biotech Startups". BioSpace. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  6. Writer, GEN Staff (October 18, 2017). "Vir Grows with $500M in Financing, Humabs Acquisition, Two Up-to-$1B Collaborations".
  7. "Xconomy: Vir Biotech Vies for Global Approach to Tackling Infectious Disease". Xconomy. 2017-10-18. Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  8. "Alnylam Jumps on $1B RNAi Pact With Vir Biotechnology". BioSpace. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  9. Chevallier, Ariane Le. "Vaccine technology developed by OHSU scientists acquired by industry leaders". OHSU News. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  10. "Transformation Agent—Finalist: Howard Horn, Vir Biotechnology". Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  11. "SoftBank-backed Vir Biotechnology raises $143 million in U.S. IPO". Reuters. October 10, 2019 – via
  12. "SoftBank-backed Vir Biotechnology's shares tumble in market debut". Reuters. 2019-10-11. Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  13. Herper, Matthew (2020-03-25). "Vir Biotechnology reports early progress in antibody treatment for Covid-19". STAT. Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  14. Gupta, Anil; Gonzalez-Rojas, Yaneicy; Juarez, Erick; Crespo Casal, Manuel; Moya, Jaynier; Falci, Diego R.; Sarkis, Elias; Solis, Joel; Zheng, Hanzhe; Scott, Nicola; Cathcart, Andrea L.; Hebner, Christy M.; Sager, Jennifer; Mogalian, Erik; Tipple, Craig (2021-11-18). "Early Treatment for Covid-19 with SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Antibody Sotrovimab". New England Journal of Medicine. 385 (21): 1941–1950. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2107934. ISSN 0028-4793. PMID 34706189 Check |pmid= value (help).
  15. "Vir Bio's COVID-19 Antibody Therapy Could be Great, But Will It Be Too Late?". BioSpace. Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  16. Gupta, Anil; Gonzalez-Rojas, Yaneicy; Juarez, Erick; Crespo Casal, Manuel; Moya, Jaynier; Falci, Diego R.; Sarkis, Elias; Solis, Joel; Zheng, Hanzhe; Scott, Nicola; Cathcart, Andrea L.; Hebner, Christy M.; Sager, Jennifer; Mogalian, Erik; Tipple, Craig; Peppercorn, Amanda; Alexander, Elizabeth; Pang, Phillip S.; Free, Almena; Brinson, Cynthia; Aldinger, Melissa; Shapiro, Adrienne E. (November 18, 2021). "Early Treatment for Covid-19 with SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Antibody Sotrovimab". New England Journal of Medicine. 385 (21): 1941–1950. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2107934. PMID 34706189 Check |pmid= value (help) – via Taylor and Francis+NEJM. Unknown parameter |s2cid= ignored (help)
  17. "FDA Sotrovimab FactSheet".
  18. "Vir Biotechnology CEO on the company's $1B U.S. government deal". CNBC. Retrieved 2022-10-20.
  19. Research, Center for Drug Evaluation and (2022-04-14). "FDA updates Sotrovimab emergency use authorization". FDA.
  20. "BARDA Industry Day 2022".
  21. "2022 Technology Fast 500 Award Winners". Deloitte United States. Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  22. Kansteiner, Fraiser (2023-01-25). "As Scangos bids adieu, Vir taps Bayer dealmaker De Backer as its next CEO". Fierce Pharma. Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  23. Mast, Jason (2023-01-25). "Vir CEO George Scangos to retire, after pandemic success". STAT. Retrieved 2023-02-02.
  24. "Pioneering biotech icon George Scangos hands in his retirement papers — and this time it's for real". Endpoints News. Retrieved 2023-02-02.
  25. "Development Pipeline | Vir Biotechnology".
  26. "Vir Biotechnology Announces First Patient Dosed in the Phase 2 SOLSTICE Trial Evaluating VIR-2218 and VIR-3434 for the Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis D Virus Infection". Retrieved 2022-10-20.
  27. Buntz, Brian (2022-01-14). "How Vir Biotechnology intends to functionally cure HIV and prevent malaria". Drug Discovery and Development. Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  28. Bowen, John E.; Addetia, Amin; Dang, Ha V.; Stewart, Cameron; Brown, Jack T.; Sharkey, William K.; Sprouse, Kaitlin R.; Walls, Alexandra C.; Mazzitelli, Ignacio G.; Logue, Jennifer K.; Franko, Nicholas M.; Czudnochowski, Nadine; Powell, Abigail E.; Dellota, Exequiel; Ahmed, Kumail (2022-08-19). "Omicron spike function and neutralizing activity elicited by a comprehensive panel of vaccines". Science. 377 (6608): 890–894. doi:10.1126/science.abq0203. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 9348749 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 35857529 Check |pmid= value (help).
  29. Lempp, Florian A.; Soriaga, Leah B.; Montiel-Ruiz, Martin; Benigni, Fabio; Noack, Julia; Park, Young-Jun; Bianchi, Siro; Walls, Alexandra C.; Bowen, John E.; Zhou, Jiayi; Kaiser, Hannah; Joshi, Anshu; Agostini, Maria; Meury, Marcel; Dellota, Exequiel (October 2021). "Lectins enhance SARS-CoV-2 infection and influence neutralizing antibodies". Nature. 598 (7880): 342–347. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03925-1. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 34464958 Check |pmid= value (help). Unknown parameter |s2cid= ignored (help)
  30. Tortorici, M. Alejandra; Czudnochowski, Nadine; Starr, Tyler N.; Marzi, Roberta; Walls, Alexandra C.; Zatta, Fabrizia; Bowen, John E.; Jaconi, Stefano; Di Iulio, Julia; Wang, Zhaoqian; De Marco, Anna; Zepeda, Samantha K.; Pinto, Dora; Liu, Zhuoming; Beltramello, Martina (September 2021). "Broad sarbecovirus neutralization by a human monoclonal antibody". Nature. 597 (7874): 103–108. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03817-4. ISSN 1476-4687. PMC 9341430 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 34280951 Check |pmid= value (help).

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