Yesterday, an FDA panel recommended retiring the monovalent COVID vaccines and using only the newer bivalent vaccines, which target variants. And before you log off for the weekend, find out where you can meet your next industry partner and learn more about BIO’s priorities for 2023 directly from BIO's Interim CEO, Rachel King. (550 words, 2 minutes, 45 seconds)
FDA panel: Retire monovalent COVID vaccines
The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee yesterday voted unanimously to recommend that all COVID-19 vaccines—primary doses and boosters—should have the same formula but declined to vote on a proposal to give the vaccine every fall.
The recommendation: FDA recommended using Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s bivalent boosters, which target both the original strain and the BA.4/BA.5 Omicron subvariants and retiring the monovalent vaccines that target only the original strain.
Why bivalent boosters? They have been shown to reduce the risk of infection, hospitalization, and death from the dominant XBB subvariants.
Why it matters: Only 15.3% of the U.S. population has received a bivalent booster. Experts told the committee that having just one type of vaccine would reduce complexity and increase vaccination rates.
When’s my next shot? The FDA had also proposed updating the COVID vaccine formula annually so it can be given every fall, like the flu shot. The committee said the idea has merits but expressed reservations about whether an annual shot is needed, noting we need to learn more about how the coronavirus behaves, per CNN. An updated annual shot would facilitate the arrival of other COVID vaccines made using different approaches.
What’s next: The FDA Commissioner will decide whether and when to accept the committee’s recommendation, which is nonbinding but usually accepted. The idea of an annual vaccine could be taken up again by the committee, which is expected to meet about nine times this year.
Why partnerships matter in biotech (and how you can find one)
This year’s BIO CEO & Investor Conference in New York continues a 25-year tradition of fostering partnerships by bringing together leaders in biotech and the investment community.
Biotech partnering, by the numbers: During the 41st J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco earlier this month, the BIO One-on-One Partnering™ platform facilitated 5,700+ meetings between more than 1,800 companies, including more than 350 VCs.
Now, partnering heads to New York—where BIO will bring the platform to the BIO CEO & Investor Conference, taking place February 6-9 (including extra days for virtual partnering).
Why matchmaking matters: Partnering is an essential driver of the U.S. biotech business, with external partnerships increasing by 152% and tripling in size, from $79.77 billion in 2011 to $201.39 billion in 2021, according to a recent study by Vital Transformation.
Beyond partnering, the BIO CEO & Investor Conference will feature educational panels and “fireside chats” with CEOs and biotech leaders, as well as close to 150 presentations showcasing companies’ latest science.
It’s not too late—register now for the BIO CEO & Investor Conference.
BIO’s Interim CEO Rachel King appeared on The BioCentury Show, where she said the organization’s top priorities in 2023 include guiding implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), FDA’s accelerated approval pathway, capital formation, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, which she calls “the pathway to excellence.”
Kicking off what’s expected to be a busy year for the industry in Washington, D.C., King discusses public perceptions of the biotech industry, the need to find and nurture political champions, and the pressing concerns of BIO’s members.
Click here to register and watch now.
President Biden’s Friday: Departing for a weekend trip to the presidential retreat in Camp David.
What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House will continue consideration of the Republican-backed bill prohibiting using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve without a corresponding increase in gas and oil production on federal lands; the bill now has 140+ amendments after a rule change, reports The Hill.