This new tool can help you track COVID-19 R&D

May 12, 2020
ICYMI: Last night, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took an important step forward for America’s seniors and the future of innovative CAR T-cell therapies. Here’s our take. We have an announcement, too: the launch of a cool new COVID-19 R&D tracker…

ICYMI: Last night, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took an important step forward for America’s seniors and the future of innovative CAR T-cell therapies. Here’s our take.

We have an announcement, too: the launch of a cool new COVID-19 R&D tracker. There’s also been a lot of chatter on biofuels and the biobased economy—one of the most important tools available for getting the American economy back to full health. Here are 915 words, about 4 and a half minutes.

This new tool can help you track COVID-19 R&D

You know there’s unprecedented work being done by biopharmaceutical innovators to combat and beat the novel coronavirus. How can you keep track of it all? With BIO’s new, interactive COVID-19 tracker.

The news: BIO unveiled a first-of-its-kind, interactive tracker of the treatments and vaccines in the COVID-19 pipeline. 

How it works: BIO’s Industry Analysis Team identified funding sources of more than 400 unique drug programs, de-duped multiple programs and trials for the same drug, and pinpointed the locations of companies working on them. Sourcing of drug names and phase of development comes from BioCentury, Biomedtracker, and international BIO affiliate organizations. And, the tracker will be updated weekly on Mondays. 

BIO's COVID-19 R&D Tracker

The key finding: The private sector is responsible for more than 90% of vaccines and therapeutics in development, and more than 70% of R&D is being undertaken by small companies. 

Why it matters: The tracker will help public and private sector funders more strategically and holistically assess and prioritize programs to speed their advancement—bring us one step closer to ending this thing. 

To learn more or check it out, visit

To learn more about how the biopharmaceutical industry is responding to the pandemic, visit


More Health Care News: 

AP: UN says 7 or 8 `top’ candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine exist
The World Health Organization (WHO) is accelerating work on the “top candidates,” but did not say which ones.

The Hill: Johnson & Johnson officer says goal is to deliver 1 billion coronavirus vaccines next year
“Paul Stoffels, the company’s chief scientific officer, told ABC’s ‘This Week’ that Johnson & Johnson is increasing its manufacturing and preparing for clinical trials in September. He hopes to have data and start developing the vaccines at the end of the year.”


What’s the buzz on biofuels?

Lots of people are talking about biofuels and the biobased economy this week. Here’s an update. 

ICYMI: Five state governors (Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Wyoming) requested the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waive the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements to include a certain percentage of biofuel in U.S. transportation fuel.

But biofuel states are fighting back. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz also sent a letter explaining how biofuel producers were already suffering due to the unprecedented number of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs)—and their pain was exacerbated by the pandemic. 

What they said: “Granting the requested waiver would only worsen the economic harm that biofuel producers, supporting technology providers, and agricultural producers are experiencing and would do nothing to improve the financial health of the refiners,” they wrote. “Undermining the RFS at a time when rural America is struggling economically, farmers are fighting to stay in business, and the biofuels industry has been impacted by furloughs and plant closures is unconscionable.”

Bipartisan U.S. Senators chimed in, too. Led by Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN), Jodi Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), another letter explained how waiving the RFS could “cause further harm to the U.S. economy, especially our most vulnerable rural communities” and “exacerbate the effects experienced by the biofuel sector as a result of COVID-19.” 

Oh, yeah: a waiver might be illegal, too. “Recent requests for a waiver of the RFS are unjustified and clearly do not satisfy the rigorous requirements necessary for EPA consideration. RFS waivers can only be granted by EPA if there is a demonstration of ‘severe harm’ to the economy or environment of a state, region or the United States that is directly caused by the RFS,” they continued.

But it’s not just about the economy—it’s also about human health. As we’ve previously reported, there are clear links between higher levels of air pollution due to fossil fuels, and worse symptoms and even death due to the coronavirus. We should be encouraging the use of clean, renewable fuels—not thwarting them.

It’s another example of the need for policy to support the biobased economy, wrote Stephanie Batchelor, VP of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section, in Morning Consult. “The sustainable fuels sector is actively working to decarbonize the aviation sector, using many of the same sustainable sources to make biobased materials—a game-changer that would significantly clean up our air and improve public health. But these companies—many of which are in rural economies—are developing these breakthroughs without much of the policy support afforded to other industries.”

The bottom line: “We must build towards a resilient and cleaner future and that starts by promoting investment in low carbon fuels and supporting the farmers and sustainable fuel producers in rural America,” said Stephanie.


More Agriculture & Environment News: 

POLITICO Pro [Subscription]: Trump deems farmworkers ‘essential’ but doesn’t make safety rules mandatory
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommended guidelines that cover a range of critical employment sectors, including farm labor. But the Trump administration has not made the guidelines mandatory, as the Department of Labor is empowered to do on an emergency basis. And the CDC has not released recommendations specific to field workers like it did for meatpacking employees as that industry fell into chaos in recent weeks.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Tuesday: At yesterday’s press briefing, he said the White House will help states test 2% of the population for COVID-19 in May. Today, he’s meeting with Republican Senators. The press secretary is scheduled to hold a briefing at 2 PM ET. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The Senate is in session, and Senate HELP is holding a hearing featuring NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC’s Dr. Robert Redfield, FDA’s Dr. Stephen Hahn, and Adm. Brett Giroir of HHS. The House won’t return to Washington until at least Friday.

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