COVID-19 cases are surging—here’s what we know.

June 23, 2020
It’s a packed news day. BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath has an update on the surge in COVID-19 cases across the United States and the outlook for a vaccine, and some Green lawmakers in Germany signal support for gene editing in agriculture. It’s also a busy day in…

It’s a packed news day. BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath has an update on the surge in COVID-19 cases across the United States and the outlook for a vaccine, and some Green lawmakers in Germany signal support for gene editing in agriculture. It’s also a busy day in Washington, with a few hearings to watch. Here are around 860 words, just over 4 minutes.

COVID-19 cases are surging—BIO's Dr. McMurry-Heath weighs in.

While many countries around the world are getting back to normal, COVID-19 cases are surging in the United States. What’s going on? BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath appeared on CNN and MSNBC to discuss.

The United States reported 30,000 new coronavirus infections last Friday, the highest total since May 1, as well as record numbers of infections in several states, according to the New York Times

We need to remain vigilant: “We need everyone across the country to continue to follow the directions of their local public health officials,” she said. 

This includes social distancing, wearing masks, and washing your hands—which work.

And testing matters: “The important thing is to drive as many people who need treatment into treatment so they have supportive care and can fully recover,” she told CNN. “The only way that can happen is if people get tested.” 


The good news? We have reason to hope a vaccine could come soon. The biotechnology industry has launched more than 500 projects in 20 weeks to find treatments and vaccines—and three vaccine projects are ready for Phase 3 clinical trials, Dr. McMurry-Heath said.

Catch up on what the biotech industry’s doing to combat COVID-19 at  


More Health Care News: 

POLITICO: Trump aides consider a CDC overhaul as virus cases surge
“White House officials are putting a target on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, positioning the agency as a coronavirus scapegoat as cases surge in many states and the U.S. falls behind other nations that are taming the pandemic.” 

STAT News: The FDA turns to a quiet problem-solver who brings expertise—and a little controversy
Meet “Patrizia Cavazzoni, an agency newcomer and one of [Janet] Woodcock’s chief deputies who is also a Pfizer and Eli Lilly veteran.” 

STAT News: Sanofi accelerates COVID-19 plans
“The start of a Phase 1/2 clinical trial for a vaccine that Sanofi is developing with GSK has been pushed up to September from December. And a first-in-human study of the vaccine it is developing with Translate Bio, based on mRNA technology, will begin in the fourth quarter.”


Some German lawmakers reverse course on gene editing

Here’s news we didn’t think we’d see anytime soon. Green MPs in Germany now support the use of gene editing technology as a way to improve sustainability, reports Euractiv.

Green politicians call for a “modern” approach to genetic engineering. "Gene-editing technology could have an important role to play in improving sustainability, highlighting opportunities ‘for a healthy planet and thus for the good of people and the environment,’” says Euractiv. (The paper is in German, so we’ll take Euractiv’s word for it.) 

They’re basing their switch on science. The paper “highlights concerns that the current regulations of genetically modified organisms ‘no longer corresponds to the current state of science’ and works to promote monopoly structures in agriculture.” 

What they’re saying: “The current regulation is very contradictory,” said Green MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, noting that gene editing is allowed in health care research but not agriculture. “This kind of overregulation is also an obstacle for SMEs—it’s very bureaucratic, costly and inhibitive. As a consequence, it means that what we’ll see is that in 10 years’ time we will be outsourcing from the EU and EU farmers will be buying advanced seeds from elsewhere at a premium cost.” 

Why it matters: Biotechnology like gene editing “has the potential to effectively address many challenges that agriculture and wider society are facing today,” and that he “looks forward to an open and factual policy dialogue on this topic,” explained Beat Späth, director of agricultural biotechnology for EuropaBio, one of BIO’s sister organizations.


More Agriculture and Environment News: 

Bloomberg: Trump says China deal ‘fully intact’ after Navarro roils markets
“‘The China Trade Deal is fully intact. Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!’ Trump said in a Twitter post late Monday.” 

UPI: Florida Keys plans killer insect attack on disease-carrying mosquitoes
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the release [of Oxitec mosquitoes], and Florida officials announced state permits on Tuesday. Final approval is required by board members for the mosquito control district.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Tuesday: Heading to Arizona to commemorate the 200th mile of the new U.S.-Mexico border wall and speak at Dream City Church. Meanwhile, a “coalition of LGBTQ clinics and organizations are suing to block a Trump administration rule that aims to strip ‘sex discrimination’ protections for transgender people from laws that govern health care,” reports NPR.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: It’s a busy day. House Energy and Commerce is holding a full-committee virtual hearing on the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response, with several key health officials from the CDC, HHS, and NIH set to testify. Also, Senate HELP will hold a hearing on preparing for future pandemics; read BIO’s take and ideas to ensure we are ready for the next public health emergency. 

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