“COVID-19 won’t be our last pandemic.”

February 22, 2021
As we start a new week, we’re focused on policy recommendations for beating COVID-19, preparing for the next pandemic, solving climate change, and building a resilient economy. (Yeah, we’re busy.) Details below, plus what’s happening in Washington this week and the…
BIO

As we start a new week, we’re focused on policy recommendations for beating COVID-19, preparing for the next pandemic, solving climate change, and building a resilient economy. (Yeah, we’re busy.) Details below, plus what’s happening in Washington this week and the Black chemist who paved the way for synbio. (1,000 words, 5 minutes)

 

“COVID-19 won’t be our last pandemic.”

 
 

Getting Americans back to health, work, and school is, rightly, the immediate priority, says BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath in Roll Call—but we also need to prepare for the next pandemic. Bolstering the bioeconomy can help.

We’re on the way to beating COVID-19. The United States has given more vaccinations than any other country, and President Biden announced there would be enough vaccines to vaccinate 300 million Americans by July. (Shoutout to Pfizer, which plans to double the number of doses it produces each week.)

“But solving our current crisis is not enough,” she added. “If our leaders don’t lay the groundwork for a healthier future, we could face public health emergencies that make COVID-19 look tame by comparison.” 

“Preparedness begins with accelerating infectious disease research and development—including through more grants, tax incentives, and public-private partnerships that support those driving our innovation ecosystem,” she continues. This could help small companies—start-ups like Moderna—deliver new treatments. 

A few more things the administration needs to do:

  • “[W]ork collaboratively with the private sector to boost our domestic manufacturing capabilities and stockpiles of medical supplies”—but also “avoid any spirit of ‘vaccine nationalism’ and preserve the benefits of a global supply chain.”
  • “[A]dopt a One Health policy approach.”
  • Expand “support for biotechnologies that make manufacturing and farming greener and more sustainable.”

Read Dr. Michelle’s entire op-ed.

Learn more about BIO’s 100 Days of Innovation blueprint.

 

More Health Care News: 

The Hill: Biden selects Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as first Black woman to run Medicare
“[H]er previous posts included serving as deputy director for policy at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as well as director of coverage policy at the Department of Health & Human Services.” 

The New York Times: Clinical trials are moving out of the lab and into people’s homes
“After the pandemic forced thousands of trials to shut down, researchers found clever ways to conduct human studies remotely—while reaching more people, quickly and cheaply.”

 
 
 
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BIO Celebrates Black History Month
Percy Julian.jpg

Black chemist Dr. Percy Julian overcame racial discrimination to pioneer the synthesis of plant chemicals to make medicines.  

Born in 1899 in Montgomery, AL, Julian graduated from DePauw as valedictorian in 1920. He enrolled in Harvard’s graduate chemistry program—but withdrew when denied a teaching assistantship needed to earn his Ph.D., because the school didn’t want him teaching white students. 

After teaching at Howard, he made his way to the University of Vienna in Austria, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1931 studying the chemistry of plants and how to use them in medicine.

Dr. Julian became director of research at Glidden Company, which supplied soybean oil products. There, he pioneered the chemical synthesis and industrial-scale production of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, which led to medical breakthroughs like steroids and birth control pills. 

The first African American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Julian passed away in 1975.

Watch this PBS NOVA video clip about Dr. Julian's life and work.

 

BIO joins Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance

 
 

The Biden administration has been solidifying America’s leadership role in the global climate fight—and BIO provided recommendations for policies to help us get there. Now, we’ve joined with like-minded groups to propose policies that could help solve climate change and build resiliency.

To catch you up…The United States rejoined the Paris climate accord on Friday—but “we know that just doing Paris is not enough,” said White House climate envoy John Kerry

“To meet climate change commitments, it is crucial to lead with science and U.S. innovation,” BIO said recently in a statement submitted for a House Energy & Commerce climate change hearing. “We must incentivize the adoption of innovative and sustainable technologies and practices and streamline and expedite regulatory pathways for breakthrough technology solutions.” 

To that end, BIO joined the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA), a coalition of agriculture, food, and forestry organizations and businesses that are developing and promoting shared climate policy priorities. 

FACA provided 40+ policy recommendations to the Biden administration and Congress covering 6 key areas: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research, and food loss and waste.

Recommendations like…

  • Providing voluntary, incentive-based tools for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to maximize the sequestration of carbon and the reduction of other greenhouse gas emissions as well as increase the resilience of the land.
  • Promoting public and private sector tools to incentivize farmers, ranchers, and forest owners to prioritize and scale climate-smart practices.
  • Increasing federal investment in agriculture, forestry, and food-related research.
  • Provide a risk- and science-based regulatory pathway to streamline the animal biotechnology approval process.

  • Streamline EPA’s renewable fuel pathway approval process.

(See all the recs in FACA’s full report and one-pager.)

Next steps: FACA is organizing working groups to develop more specific policy proposals, focusing on things like the carbon bank concept, tax credits and other incentives, and climate research.

Read the full news release here.

Learn more about how science and innovation can help us meet our climate commitments.

 
 
 
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BIO Beltway Report
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President Biden’s Monday: Announcement about small business at 12:05 PM ET. The COVID-19 Response Team will hold a briefing at 3 PM ET. President Biden, VP Harris, and their spouses will hold a candle-lighting ceremony to honor Americans who have died from COVID-19 at 6 PM ET. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Today, the House Budget Committee will mark up President Biden’s COVID-19 relief package, with a floor vote expected this week, while the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the nomination of Hon. Merrick Garland for attorney general. A LOT of hearings to watch this week, including: 

Tuesday, February 23 at 10 AM ET
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions: Nomination of Xavier Becerra to Serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services

Tuesday, February 23 at 10:30 AM ET
House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: Pathway to Protection: Expanding Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines, with witnesses from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax, and Pfizer 

Wednesday, February 24 at 2 PM ET
Senate Finance: Hearing to Consider the Nomination of Xavier Becerra for Secretary of Health and Human Services

Thursday, February 25 at 10 AM ET
Senate Finance: Hearing to Consider the Nomination of Katherine Tai for U.S. Trade Representative 

Thursday, February 25 at 12:40 PM ET
House Agriculture: Climate Change and the U.S. Agriculture and Forestry Sectors

 
 
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