Getting a COVID-19 vaccine? Celebrate U.S. IP laws

March 30, 2021
Have you gotten a COVID-19 vaccine? Thank biotech—and America’s IP laws. We also have details on how the world’s largest chemical producer, BIO member BASF, plans to go carbon neutral. (812 words, 4 minutes, 3 seconds) Good Day BIO is getting ready to take a quick…
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Have you gotten a COVID-19 vaccine? Thank biotech—and America’s IP laws. We also have details on how the world’s largest chemical producer, BIO member BASF, plans to go carbon neutral. (812 words, 4 minutes, 3 seconds)

Good Day BIO is getting ready to take a quick Spring break. Starting Thursday, April 1, we'll be on hiatus for a week—so not too long. Publication will resume on Thursday, April 8. We hope you are also able to enjoy the transition to warmer weather. And stay safe!

 

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine? Celebrate U.S. IP laws

 
 

“The fabulous vaccine success should be a moment to celebrate U.S. property rights and innovation,” says The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board—but many policymakers in the U.S. and globally see “an opening for government to confiscate and redistribute.” This might thwart future cures and vaccines—including for the next pandemic.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine this week? Thank strong IP laws, which protect innovators and enabled them to rapidly launch 800+ R&D programs targeting the virus with unprecedented speed and collaboration.

But governments and organizations around the world want to “suspend intellectual property protections on COVID vaccines and treatments, which they say is necessary to expand global access,” says the WSJ.

However: “Pharmaceutical companies are ramping up manufacturing as fast as they can, including in low-income countries” and “sharing their IP.” But suspending patent protections, explains the editorial, will not enhance India and South Africa's capacity to make advanced vaccine products.  

This could lead to “subpotent” and counterfeit medicines, putting patients at risk—a lesson learned from the HIV/AIDS crisis during the Bush administration, explains former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in another Wall Street Journal opinion piece this week

The successful global collaborations between innovators and partners around the world have demonstrated the importance of following this model to ensure the fullest use of all resources to produce effective vaccines to meet the need in record time.

And it could put future innovation at risk, too. “Novavax and Moderna have been investing in vaccine research for years—more than 30 in Novavax’s case—and their COVID shots are their first success. Companies won’t continue to invest if they aren’t allowed to make a profit,” continues the WSJ editorial board. 

BIO supports “strong, efficient, and effective efforts to see that successful COVID products get to patients everywhere in the world that need them,” we said in a recent letter to President Biden. But policies must also “continue to support innovative biotech research and development endeavors aimed at bringing this pandemic to an end as soon as possible.”

 

More Health Care News:

The New York Times: The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are very effective in real-world conditions at preventing infections, the C.D.C. reported
“Consistent with clinical trial data, a two-dose regimen prevented 90 percent of infections by two weeks after the second shot. One dose prevented 80 percent of infections by two weeks after vaccination.”

 
 
 
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How the world’s largest chemical company is going carbon neutral 

 
 

The world’s largest chemical producer is planning to cut carbon emissions by 25% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050—with help from biotechnology.

BIO member BASF is the world’s largest chemical producer—making things like catalytic converters, insulation foams, coatings, vitamins, and engineering plastics, explains Reuters

Now, “BASF is setting itself even more ambitious goals on its journey to climate neutrality and wants to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” said the company yesterday. This will require cutting emissions 60% compared to 1990 levels. 

To get there, they’re investing in “low-emission and CO2-free technologies”—which will help “replace fossil fuels” with new renewable sources as well as invest in one of the largest carbon capture and storage projects under the North Sea.

BIO Brief: Fighting Climate Change Through Biotechnology Innovation

What they’re saying: “We must first concentrate on the initial steps of this journey, not the final ones. That is why BASF will increase its use of renewable energies. And we will accelerate the development and deployment of new CO2-free processes for the production of chemicals,” said Dr. Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of BASF. 

The announcement comes following BASF's commitment to clear and measurable targets to boost sustainable agriculture by 2030. By focusing on the biggest levers that will make agriculture more sustainable and contribute to the most pressing needs of society, the company will help farmers achieve a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions per ton of crop produced.

Learn more about how biotech can help us meet our ag and climate policy goals.

 

More Agriculture and Environment News:

AP: WHO report: COVID likely first jumped into humans from animals
“A joint World Health Organization-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is ‘extremely unlikely,’ according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press.”

 
 
 
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Jennifer Doudna.jpg

Regular readers around here are familiar with Dr. Jennifer Doudna, one of the winners of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work to develop the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique.  

CRISPR/Cas9 allows precise alterations—or “edits”—to the genome, with huge potential to eliminate diseases, strengthen crops, and clean up the planet. Dr. Doudna and her collaborator, Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier, published their research in a landmark 2012 paper in the journal Science, which showed they could isolate the components of CRISPR/Cas9, insert them in a test tube, and make specific edits to DNA.

Born in Washington, D.C., Dr. Doudna earned her Ph.D. from Harvard and taught molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale before joining the UC-Berkeley faculty. In 2017, she founded BIO member company Mammoth Biosciences, which has been developing a CRISPR-based COVID-19 diagnostic.

Learn more about her in historian Walter Isaacson’s recently published book, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race.

 
BIO Beltway Report
BIO Beltway Report
 
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President Biden’s Tuesday: Signing the PPP Extension Act of 2021 into law. The New York Times explains why Biden might “go bigger” on green stimulus.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Recess.

 
 
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