CDC’s COVID vaccine chief: no safety corners cut

December 7, 2020
It’s a busy Monday. BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath talked with the CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines. Also, we look at the House leadership selections that will impact climate and the bioeconomy, including some historic…
BIO

It’s a busy Monday. BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath talked with the CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines. Also, we look at the House leadership selections that will impact climate and the bioeconomy, including some historic “firsts.” (900 words, 4 minutes, 30 seconds)

 

CDC’s COVID vaccine chief: no safety corners cut

 
 

Two COVID-19 vaccines are poised to be authorized for emergency use—just about one year after the virus was identified, an unprecedented accomplishment. But will they be safe? Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), answered this question and more on today’s episode of the I AM BIO Podcast.

“It’s really important that the public understands that safety corners haven’t been cut,” said Dr. Messonnier. “What’s different is doing everything to get rid of any obstacles that would cause wastage of time.”

What we know: The vaccines are about 95% effective—but only after the second dose. “The bottom line is if it’s a two-dose vaccine, you need to get the second dose,” she said.

What we don’t know: Whether or not they are “infection blocking,” meaning they protect against future infection, or “disease blocking,” meaning they protect an individual from getting sick but don’t necessarily prevent the spread.

But this is not unusual at the time of authorization, she continued. “We need to continue rigorous studies of these vaccines to answer all of these questions and understand how the vaccines perform outside clinical trials,” and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will continue to review and amend their recommendations.

Who will get the vaccine first? ACIP voted last week to prioritize health care workers and nursing home residents for the initial doses. The general public should be able to get the vaccine by the second quarter of 2021.

The bottom line: “This is a historic undertaking and a shining moment for the biomedical ecosystem and for the partnerships that existed before this effort and that really have supported these efforts,” said Dr. Messonnier. 

Listen to the whole thing to learn more about vaccine development and allocation, including when the vaccine will be available for children (and how we can protect them in the meantime) and what the CDC’s doing to engage with communities of color and build trust in the vaccines. 

Get the episode at www.bio.org/podcast or wherever you get your podcast fix, including AppleGoogle, or Spotify. 

Want more vaccine facts? Visit www.COVIDVaccineFacts.org.

 

More Health Care News: 

Reuters: Drug industry trade groups sue Trump admin over drug pricing rule
“The suits were filed by PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry trade group, and a group of biotechnology industry trade organizations, including Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), in federal courts in Maryland and California, respectively.” 

ROI NJ (Opinion): The truth about vaccines
“They are safe and effective,” writes Debbie Hart, President and CEO of BioNJ. 

STAT News: New data on CRISPR treatment for blood diseases suggest cure is possible
“Ten patients treated with a CRISPR-based gene-editing therapy for the inherited blood disorders sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia have shown a consistent and sustained response with manageable side effects, according to interim results from two clinical trials reported Saturday.” 

 
 
 
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House leadership and the bioeconomy

 
 

The 117th Congress will be critical for the climate and the bioeconomy. Here’s a quick look at key House leadership selections—including a few important “firsts.”

From the top: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) won reelection as speaker, while Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) will continue as majority leader and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) as majority whip. Republicans reelected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as leader, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) as whip, and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as conference chair. 

Atlanta Rep. David Scott (D-GA) will chair the House Agriculture Committee, the first Black lawmaker to hold the position. This “reflects a shift in the tradition of selecting a chair from a rural area and shows the growing importance the party places on the committee’s work dealing with food stamps and the school lunch program,” explained The Hill. (BIO has worked with him in the past on the development of clean energy programs.) 

Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) will serve as the Agriculture Committee’s ranking member. “The promotion is significant for Pennsylvania, where 1-in-7 jobs are in or are linked to the agriculture industry,” said his press release

A few milestones for women: House Democrats elected Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) chair of Appropriations, the second woman to hold the position, while House Republicans elected Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) ranking member of Energy and Commerce, the first woman at the top of the committee. These selections bring the number of women in House leadership roles to nine Democrats and four Republicans. 

Also noteworthy: Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) will chair the Foreign Affairs Committee, the first Black lawmaker to hold this position, too. 

Still TBD: The Senate, which will be decided after the Georgia runoff on Tuesday, January 5. 

BIO looks forward to working with the 117th Congress to advance the development of clean, sustainable biofuels and biobased products and modernized biotechnology regulations that will help us clean up the planet and solve some of our biggest challenges. 

ICYMI: We took a look at what the election results mean for agriculture and the bioeconomy.

 
 
 
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Join BIO's Dr. Michelle at BLUE KNIGHT, convened by Johnson & Johnson and BARDA.
 
 

In seeking to combat emerging infectious diseases and other 21st-century health threats, the path to better prepared, protected, and healthy individuals, families, and communities could rely on unlocking the collective power of the global community.

BLUE KNIGHT™ seeks to answer this call.

On December 8-10, Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS and BARDA will virtually convene the emerging Blue Knight community of thought leaders (including BIO's Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath), innovators and entrepreneurs for a three-day symposium, including interactive sessions focused on key areas of interest in infectious disease, public health, and company acceleration. Sessions will explore high priority areas of interest for scientific and technological innovation aimed for improving our preparedness and response to emerging health security threats.

Click here to register.

 
 
 
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