Hundreds of millions of doses

February 24, 2021
Yesterday, COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers appeared (virtually) in front of a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee—we have a summary. We also introduce you to the newly confirmed Agriculture secretary and a Black biologist who paved the way for last week’s historic…
BIO

Yesterday, COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers appeared (virtually) in front of a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee—we have a summary. We also introduce you to the newly confirmed Agriculture secretary and a Black biologist who paved the way for last week’s historic Mars landing. (995 words, 4 minutes, 58 seconds)

 

What we heard during yesterday's E&C COVID-19 vaccine hearing

 
 

Yesterday, House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing, Pathway to Protection: Expanding Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines, with witnesses from COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers (and several BIO members). Below, a top-line summary of what they discussed—including how many doses are on the way.

Much of the dialogue between Members of Congress and the companies focused on early distribution issues and steps to remedy the slow delivery to patients.

Expect hundreds of millions more vaccine doses very soon:

  • Pfizer is “on track to make 120 million doses available for shipment by the end of March and an additional 80 million doses by the end of May,” with “all 300 million contracted doses” by the end of July.
  • Moderna will “deliver 100 million doses by the end of March,” doubling monthly deliveries “by April to more than 40 million doses per month…to deliver a second 100 million doses by the end of May and a third 100 million doses by the end of July.”
  • Johnson & Johnson: “[O]ur plan is to begin shipping immediately upon emergency use authorization, and deliver enough single-doses by the end of March to enable the vaccination of more than 20 million Americans. We are confident in our plans to deliver 100 million single-dose vaccines to the United States during the first half of 2021.”
  • Novavax is “prepared to deliver the 110 million doses…by the third quarter of this year,” with “global capacity to produce approximately 2 billion doses per year, roughly 150 million doses per month.” (Novavax’s U.S. phase 3 trial is now fully enrolled, and the company expects to complete the FDA filing in the second quarter of 2021.)

There was overwhelming appreciation of the efforts of companies, and the feat to develop and distribute a vaccine in less than one year. (Check out BIO’s COVID-19 Therapeutic Development Tracker to learn more about it.)

There were a few exchanges on the call to utilize global “march-in” rights through the World Health Organization (WHO)—but this provided company representatives the opportunity to highlight their commitments to ensuring global access to vaccines without the “theft” of intellectual property. 

Learn how America’s intellectual property laws have driven biopharmaceutical innovation. 

Also: Some Members inquired about possible disruptions in the supply chain, both in procuring raw materials or manufacturing generally. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) inquired about vaccine hesitancy among minorities and what companies are doing to promote vaccine uptake in underserved communities.

Watch the entire hearing.

Do you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines? Visit www.COVIDVaccineFacts.org.

 

More Health Care News: 

The Wall Street Journal: To make more COVID-19 vaccines, rival drugmakers team up
“Sanofi and Novartis are among the big pharmaceutical companies that have agreed to help make a competitor’s shots.”

 
 
 
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Vilsack’s confirmed

 
 

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Tom Vilsack to be the next Agriculture secretary—here’s the scoop. 

Meet Secretary Tom Vilsack. He held the same post during the entire Obama administration (2009-2017) and was previously Governor of Iowa (1999-2007). Since 2017, he’s been the president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.  

He had bipartisan support. The final tally was 92-7, with many Republicans (including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) joining Democrats in support of Vilsack’s confirmation, reports The Washington Post.

And he’s expected to be an advocate for advancing the bioeconomy. In his confirmation hearing, he expressed support for the biofuels industry, innovation in agriculture, biomanufacturing, and One Health—read our coverage

Overall, BIO aligns with Vilsack’s pledge to make the “pandemic, racial justice and equity, and climate change” priorities for the Department of Agriculture. (BIO presented him with the George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology in 2019 and joined a coalition letter supporting his nomination.)

In Vilsack’s words: “We have a lot of work ahead of us to contain the pandemic, transform America’s food system, create fairer markets for producers, ensure equity and root out systemic barriers, develop new income opportunities with climate-smart practices, increase access to healthy and nutritious food, and make historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy in rural America,” he said after the confirmation

In other news, USDA recently announced key staff appointments, as well as leadership in the farm production and conservation mission area.


More Agriculture and Environment News:

Quad City Times (Opinion): A biofuels corridor for the Midwest
“Doing so would empower urban and rural Midwesterners alike, providing significant economic and environmental benefits,” says alternative fuels advocate Bailey Arnold.

 
 
 
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BIO Celebrates Black History Month
Emmett Chapelle.jpg

Known as the “Father of Bioluminescence,” Emmett Chappelle made many important contributions to biology and biochemistry—and paved the way for last week’s historic Mars rover landing.

Born in segregated Phoenix, Arizona, in 1925, Chappelle graduated at the top of his high school class and served in Italy with the U.S. Army’s 92nd Infantry during WWII. 

When he returned home, he earned a B.S. in Biology at U.C.-Berkeley and a Master’s in Biology at the University of Washington. While in graduate school, he “made several important contributions to our understanding of proteins and their building blocks, amino acids, including how humans convert one amino acid into another.”

During the Space Race, Chappelle worked for NASA, where, among other accomplishments, he developed the ATP fluorescent assay, which could be used to detect microbial life in the soil on Mars. He applied this technology—fluorescence and bioluminescence—to other fields, such as to detect the health of crops or to detect bacteria in blood, urine, drinking water, and food. 

Chappelle was awarded the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal from NASA and inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007. He passed away at the age of 93 in October 2019.

 
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President Biden’s Wednesday: Meeting with bipartisan Members of Congress about U.S. supply chains, then signing an executive order related to the economy. The COVID-19 Response Team will hold a briefing at 11 AM ET. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Health and Human Services nominee Xavier Becerra will appear before the Senate Finance Committee at 2 PM ET.

 
 
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