Good Day BIO: 9.3 billion vaccines and counting

October 20, 2021
Global vaccine manufacturers say they’ll have enough vaccines for the entire world soon—we explain how to get them where they need to go. Plus, it’s World CRISPR Day, so we take a look at exciting applications for people and the planet. (776 words, 3 minutes, 52…
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Global vaccine manufacturers say they’ll have enough vaccines for the entire world soon—we explain how to get them where they need to go. Plus, it’s World CRISPR Day, so we take a look at exciting applications for people and the planet. (776 words, 3 minutes, 52 seconds)

 

9.3 billion vaccines and counting

 
 

By the end of the month, the biopharmaceutical industry will have produced 9.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, says the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), as vaccine manufacturers renew their commitment to global vaccine equity.

Already, 3.3 billion of the world’s 5.8 billion adults have been vaccinated—but urgent steps are needed to reach the remaining 2.5 billion, says IFPMA (which includes BIO). 

By the middle of next year, vaccine production should reach 24 billion—enough to give three shots to the entire world population of 7.9 billion

The challenge now: how to distribute them. Members of the IFPMA have been cooperating through the WHO’s COVAX initiative, but as we’ve explained, we need to address trade restrictions, supply chain bottlenecks, and funding to get vaccines to people who need them. 

The proposed waiver of the WTO TRIPS agreement for vaccine technology “has been overtaken by the facts,” says IFPMA. Clearly, the WTO does not need to waive IP rights to allow for sufficient global vaccine production. 

Read: Why the TRIPS waiver wouldn’t work

Meanwhile, biopharma companies have already made 300 voluntary collaborations to get vaccines to countries in need: “In particular in Africa, a number of important agreements and commitments have been made to share know-how of mRNA and adenoviral vector vaccine platforms,” continues IFPMA. 

The bottom line: IP protections are not the problem. Waiving IP protections and trying to replicate sophisticated production facilities would take much longer and cost a lot more money than sharing the vaccines we already have.

 

More Health Care News: 

The New York Times: Why mix-and-match COVID boosters just might work
“The Food and Drug Administration seems likely to allow Americans to switch vaccines when choosing a COVID-19 booster shot. That authorization, which could come this week, is the latest development in a long-running debate over whether a mix-and-match strategy helps protect people from the coronavirus.” 

BioNJ: Governor Phil Murphy celebrates groundbreaking of historic research, education and innovation hub in New Brunswick
The New Jersey Innovation and Technology Hub is “a 550,000 square foot development that will be a center of innovation, research and medical education in downtown New Brunswick.”

 
 
 
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Happy World CRISPR Day

 
 

Since its deployment about a dozen years ago fast-forwarded the field of gene editing, CRISPR advances keep on coming. Today, we’re celebrating World CRISPR Day and how it benefits people and the planet.

“It’s a precision tool,” said Nobel Laureate and CRISPR pioneer Dr. Jennifer Doudna during BIO Digital. “It speeds up the pace” of gene editing by allowing researchers to make small, precise edits to the genome and gives us a “tool for understanding the genes.” 

Read: Gene Editing 101

CRISPR could “treat or frankly even cure some of the most challenging diseases we face,” she said—including cancer, brain diseases, and sickle cell disease

It’s also accelerating diagnostics—literally. Dr. Doudna’s Mammoth Biosciences uses her discovery to seek out a particular stretch of RNA or DNA, which could lead to faster, more accurate tests for COVID-19 and other pathogens. The company announced $195 million in funding in September, bringing the total value to more than $1 billion. 

CRISPR applications are perhaps even more advanced in agriculture, where gene editing with CRISPR is speeding up the process of cross-breeding plants and animals that farmers have practiced for centuries. A few applications include:

Today is the second World CRISPR Day. Synthego, makers of gene editing platforms, will hold an all-day online event showcasing the latest discoveries and technologies. Expert-led sessions will cover CRISPR applications for cell and gene therapy, disease modeling, women leaders in the field, and much more—join here.

And don't forget to listen to the latest I am BIO podcast to learn how gene editing is being used to help allergy sufferers escape the food allergy prison. 


More Agriculture and Environment News: 

Agri-Pulse: FAO official: Biotech can help address climate
"A top official with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says gene editing could help countries address climate change and suggests the technology also could help address consumer concerns."
 
Fortune: Once wary of GMOs, China is now leading in gene-edited seeds
“‘Some 75% of the world’s patents in agricultural gene-editing are coming out of China,’ Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Swiss agricultural giant Syngenta. ‘China is not only a player in the field but has become a clear leader in this area.’” 

 
 
 
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President Biden’s Wednesday: Visiting his birthplace of Scranton, Pa., to promote his climate change and infrastructure funding

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The Senate Commerce Committee discusses nominations, including Christopher Coes for Assistant Transportation Secretary for Transportation Policy. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on health insurance coverage in the U.S. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on enhancing public health, which will include discussion of legislation covering health research. The House Select Climate Crisis Committee will hold a hearing on private sector perspectives on climate action.

 
 
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