It’s 5 AM on the coronavirus vaccine clock

July 28, 2020
As Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine heads to Phase 3 clinical trials, USA Today has updated its “coronavirus clock” to give you an idea of when we might return to normal. We also explore new research on how to eliminate plastic waste—and how bioplastics are part of the…
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As Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine heads to Phase 3 clinical trials, USA Today has updated its “coronavirus clock” to give you an idea of when we might return to normal. We also explore new research on how to eliminate plastic waste—and how bioplastics are part of the solution. Here are 900 words, 4 and a half minutes.

It’s 5 AM on the coronavirus vaccine clock

USA Today updated their coronavirus vaccine clock. Let’s take a look at where things stand—and how we got so far, so quickly.  

Moderna began Phase 3 of the clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine, NIH announced yesterday. The trial will test the vaccine’s efficacy in 30,000 healthy adult volunteers—the final stage before approval.

It’s one of a few promising vaccine programs underway. So far, three candidates (AstraZeneca/Oxford, Moderna, and Pfizer) have shown to be safe and spur immune responses, explains USA Today, and many more around the world are in progress.

So, if the start of the pandemic is midnight, and a return to normal is noon, what time is it today? We’ve now hit 5 AM, according to experts who spoke to USA Today. (They said we were at 4 AM in June, so we’ve made progress.)

But opinions were much more diverse this month compared to last month. “[E]stimates ranged from a cautious 1 AM to an optimistic 8 AM. The median response or midpoint of the more than a dozen experts was 5 AM.”

 
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USA Today Vaccine Countdown Clock - 5 AM in July 2020

Phase 3 may be the final stage before approval, but it’s also the longest—and the FDA is “not going to be rubber-stamping any vaccines,” Peter Pitts, President of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, told the paper. The government “is not trying to cut short safety but to eliminate steps that are time-consuming while sticking to the principle that the benefits should outweigh the risks.”

How did we get this far? “Our industry is moving forward at an incredibly fast pace, and part of the reason is because of the unprecedented collaboration we’re seeing across the industry and with key government and nongovernmental partners,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath.

Learn more about the COVID-19 pipeline.

 

More Health Care News:

Roll Call (Opinion): Innovation is key to defeating COVID-19
“Enacted 40 years ago, the Bayh-Dole Act is helping facilitate the development of coronavirus therapies today,” writes former Sen. Bob Dole.

 
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We can eliminate most plastic waste, but we need biotech to do it

New data published in the journal Science found that it’s possible to reduce plastic waste by almost 80% in the next 20 years—but we'll need biotech innovations to do it.

The scale of the problem: “Right now, about 11 million metric tons of plastic flow into the ocean each year, and another 18 million goes into the environment—about 10% of what the world produces each year,” reported Axios

Without action, “the yearly flow of plastics into the ocean globally is expected to nearly triple to 29 million tons by 2040—and remain at that level for hundreds of years,” Axios continued

But it’s not too late. Scientists ran some scenarios and found that by using all “feasible interventions,” we can reduce plastic waste by almost 80% by 2040. 

These interventions include substituting plastic with alternative materials—like bioplastics. Made from renewable feedstocks—like plants, industrial or food waste, or agricultural residues—these plastic alternatives not only reduce plastic waste but also reduce carbon emissions, too.

And BIO members are developing innovative bioplastics—like Danimer Scientific, whose biopolymer material looks and feels like plastic but dissolves in ocean water

But: “Further innovation in resource-efficient and low-emission business models, reuse and refill systems, sustainable substitute materials, waste management technologies and effective government policies are needed,” conclude the authors.

The bottom line: Plastics pollute our oceans and land and warm the planet—causing us to expand our human footprint and creating the very conditions that lead to disastrous climate patterns and pandemics. This is why BIO continues to push for policy that supports renewable chemical development so we can create bioplastics that reduce waste and pollution.

Learn more about bioplastics.

 

More Agriculture and Environment News:

Futurity: Governments could stop future pandemics via conservation
“Governments may be able to prevent future pandemics by investing as little as $22 billion a year in programs to curb wildlife trafficking and stem the destruction of tropical forests, a new analysis shows.” 

Science: Chinese scientist at the center of COVID-19 origin theories speaks out
“U.S. President Trump’s claim that SARS-CoV-2 was leaked from our institute totally contradicts the facts,” said virologist Shi Zhengli. “It jeopardizes and affects our academic work and personal life. He owes us an apology.”

 
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President Trump’s Tuesday: No public events scheduled. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Today at 10:15 AM, Senate Finance will hold part one of a full committee hearing, Protecting the Reliability of the U.S. Medical Supply Chain During the COVID-19 Pandemic, with witnesses from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security. More hearings we’re watching this week below.

On Deck This Week: 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 10:00 AM ET | House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee: Improving Access to Care: Legislation to Reauthorize Key Public Health Programs

Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 9:30 AM ET | Senate Finance Committee: Part 2: Protecting the Reliability of the U.S. Medical Supply Chain During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, July 31, 2020 at 9:00 AM ET | House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis: The Urgent Need for a National Plan to Contain the Coronavirus, featuring NIAID’s Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC’s Dr. Robert Redfield, and HHS’s Admiral Brett Giroir

 
 
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