“It’s 20 to 30 times more deadly than the flu.”

April 17, 2020
Yes, this virus is bad, as Dr. George Scangos of Vir Biotechnology explains in the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast—but we have some promising news from Gilead and SAB Biotherapeutics today, too. Here are 760 words, just under 4 minutes. Enjoy the weekend.
BIO

Yes, this virus is bad, as Dr. George Scangos of Vir Biotechnology explains in the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast—but we have some promising news from Gilead and SAB Biotherapeutics today, too. Here are 760 words, just under 4 minutes. Enjoy the weekend.

“It’s 20 to 30 times more deadly than the flu.”

 
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For your Friday listening, we have a new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, featuring one of the smartest virus and vaccine experts we know talking about why it’s so important to defeat COVID-19.

We know you’ve heard the name Vir Biotechnology—a BIO member developing antibody-based therapeutics to treat the coronavirus in partnership with companies including Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, GSK, and Samsung

Vir has a lot of experience in viruses including HIV, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis—and even with the shift to focus on COVID-19, this small but mighty biotech is continuing work on a hepatitis B drug after a promising Phase II clinical trial, reports FiercePharma

Vir CEO Dr. George Scangos, who is the head of BIO’s Coronavirus Collaboration Initiative, joined BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood on the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast to talk about why this virus is so deadly, why certain populations have higher risk of complications or death, and what we can do to defeat it. 

“The coronavirus is much more deadly than the flu virus,” he explained. "If you did not take social distancing measures and you just allowed this highly infectious virus to spread through the population, and you had 100 million people infected, with a 2% death rate that’s 2 million people who will die.” 

This is why Vir and dozens of other biotechs are working day and night on treatments and vaccines—which you can read about at www.bio.org/coronavirus

But he’s hopeful: “We will do something about this. The industry is mobilized, it’s moving incredibly quickly. There will be therapies. There will be vaccines. Eventually, we’ll get this under control.” 

Listen at www.bio.org/podcast or wherever you get your podcast fix including Apple, Google, and Spotify.

 

More Health Care News: 

Biopharma Dive: As Ebola drug review starts, Regeneron hopes to chart similar path for coronavirus therapy
“The Food and Drug Administration has agreed to quickly review an experimental therapy for Ebola virus infections developed by Regeneron, setting an approval decision deadline of Oct. 25 for the New York biotech's antibody-based treatment.” 

STAT: Early peek at data on Gilead coronavirus drug suggests patients are responding to treatment
“A Chicago hospital treating severe COVID-19 patients with Gilead Sciences’ antiviral medicine remdesivir in a closely watched clinical trial is seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients discharged in less than a week.”

 
 
 
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SAB speeds ahead

Breaking news from BIO member SAB Biotherapeutics: with ramped-up funding, they're on track to have a therapeutic candidate ready this summer.

ICYMI: SAB Biotherapeutics has genetically engineered cows to produce human reagent antibodies to help diagnose and treat the coronavirus, as Agri-Pulse previously reported.  

SAB has been working with the Department of Defense and BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority, to develop human antibodies for use in COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics. 

And they’ve announced an expanded scope and funding, which will speed up the development of this technology as well as help us prepare for the next pandemic. 

Why this biotech is different: “SAB has the unique capability to scale like no other polyclonal antibody program in that it produces fully human antibodies without the need for convalescent plasma blood donations from people who have recovered from the virus. This approach, once enabled, is expected to produce greater quantities of a consistent, high potency neutralizing antibody product than is currently possible, while overcoming other challenges of traditional human antibody donor methods, such as the need to identify, screen, and draw blood from recovering volunteers that can limit production,” the company explains

What they’re saying: “SAB Biotherapeutics’ unique antibody platform shows real potential to address the critical need for fighting coronavirus and establishing a truly responsive model for combatting future threats. We are continually exploring new technologies to ensure the security and safety of our armed forces as well as the American and global public,” said Dr. Matthew Hepburn, Joint Project Lead, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Enabling Biotechnologies.

 
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President Trump’s Friday: He’s getting an intel briefing and speaking with faith leaders. The Coronavirus Task Force is expected to hold a press briefing at 5 PM ET.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Recess through May 4.

 
 
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