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 open collaboration of more than 150 scientists, rapid progress was made to identify key compounds showing excellent antiviral activity against the main protease (Mpro) 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 2024.  

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

Data shows that this advanced lead, DNDI-6510, is clean in all early in vitro tox screens and highly selective for coronavirus MPro(s), demonstrates clear cellular activity in line with approved MPro inhibitor Nirmatrelvir, and has an excellent cross species ADME and PK profile.

Although other entities are currently developing COVID-19 antivirals, there remains a great need for novel antivirals to provide additional treatment options and reach patients who are excluded due to drug-drug interactions or lack of affordable access.

Open science and intellectual property

All the project’s 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 March 30, 2022 publication 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 being reviewed for regulatory approval.

Moonshot did not patent any molecules it found. They will be available for everyone 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

We are continuing our Moonshot open science journey, and want to hear from you if you would like to contribute with ideas and designs! Moonshot now has a new home in the ASAP consortium, with the aim of delivering oral antivirals for pandemic preparedness with the goal of global, equitable, and affordable access.

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 to 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 Peter Sjö, Head of Drug Discovery Programme, DNDi:

Project updates


The COVID Moonshot project lead compound DNDI-6510 demonstrates in vivo efficacy in pre-clinical SARS-CoV-2 infection models and continues to show an excellent safety profile based on its in vitro selectivity profile and interim in vivo safety pharmacology results. Scale-up chemistry now allows for the synthesis of enantiomerically pure final product on a +100 g scale and with kilo-scale GMP manufacturing ongoing to allow for comprehensive evaluation of DNDI-6510 in non-GLP and GLP safety models, with evaluation in non-GLP safety models now ongoing.

COVID-Moonshot researchers published an article in Science Magazine, in which they explained how crowdsourcing at a massive scale and open science were key in identifying new COVID-19 antivirals designed to be accessible and affordable.


In January 2022, the COVID Moonshot consortium reported the identification of compounds with strong antiviral activity and enzymatic potency against SARS-CoV-2’s main protease. These compounds satisfy the criteria for pre-clinical evaluation in the Moonshot project and will proceed to the next phase of translation.

After thorough pre-clinical testing in the second half of 2022, DNDI-6510 was selected as the best candidate for further development. It showed promising results in early tests and has a predicted human dose of low hundreds of milligrams taken twice or three times a day. The production process for DNDI-6510 has been improved and the team is now seeking suppliers to provide the necessary chemicals to produce a formulation for Phase I studies.


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!