The COVID Moonshot is a non-profit, open-science consortium of scientists from around the world dedicated to the discovery of safe, globally affordable, straight-to-generic, and easily-manufactured antiviral drugs against COVID-19 and future viral pandemics. 

The project started as a spontaneous virtual collaboration in March 2020 when a group of scientists, academics, pharmaceutical research teams, and students began a worldwide, twitter-fuelled race against the clock to identify new molecules that could block SARS-CoV-2 infection.  

Thanks to this unprecedented collaboration of more than 150 scientists, rapid progress was made to identify key compounds showing excellent antiviral activity against the main protease of SARS-CoV-2. These promising molecules are now in pre-clinical evaluation, with the consortium working to advance a compound to first in human studies in 2023.  

Although other entities are currently developing COVID-19 antivirals, there remains a great need for additional antivirals to have more treatment options and reach patients excluded due to drug interactions, lack of affordable access, or limited licensing through the Medicines Patent Pool.

DNDi is coordinating this COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator-funded project as it progresses first-in-class compounds towards the clinic.  

Open science and intellectual property

All the project’s generated discovery scientific data will be put in the public domain. Moonshot data is available online to enable others to freely build on its work and accelerate COVID-19 research. 

This approach is already showing results: according to a January 2022 preprint about a COVID-19 antiviral drug, key interactions observed by Moonshot compounds enabled identification of a promising drug developed by Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi that is now in late-stage clinical trials. 

Moonshot will not patent the molecules it finds, which are available for all to use and improve. Patents for manufacturing processes or formulation may be possible, depending on partners’ contribution, but always subject to ensuring the drug will be globally affordable and easily accessible to everyone who needs it, particularly in resource-limited settings. 

How to get involved 

Beyond contributions to the drug discovery design via the well-established Moonshot platform, we’re actively looking for partners to support the following activities: 

  1. Co-lead development and registration 
  • CMC activities: Scale-up and manufacture for clinical trial supply for Phase II/III; Commercial product development  
  • Clinical development (Phase I-III) activities: DNDi leading phase I (ideally partner to co-lead); Partner to lead phase II/III (DNDi co-lead) 
  • Registration activities: Dossier preparation and filing at WHO standards 
  1. Expand geographic reach 
  • Commercial manufacture and distribution to low- and middle-income countries 
  • Generic companies in various regions to support eventual fast supply to low- and middle-income countries 

To get involved, please contact Ben Perry, Discovery Open Innovation Leader at DNDi: bperry@dndi.org 

Project updates

2022

In January 2022, the consortium announced that it had identified compounds that are showing excellent antiviral activity and enzymatic potency against the main protease of SARS-CoV-2. These compounds are meeting Moonshot criteria for pre-clinical evaluation and will move to the next, translation phase of the project.  

2021

Progress towards candidate molecules has continued apace, with the best compounds demonstrating potencies and human dose predictions in line with emerging therapeutics in the same space (Paxlovid, S-217622). 

Moonshot project in the news

Additional information

and hundreds of open science contributors around the word!