Thank essential workers – and PPE – for tonight’s pork chops

April 29, 2020
JUST IN: For those just getting out of bed, STAT News is reporting that COVID-19 patients are responding to Gilead’s remdesivir – a sign of hope on the horizon. We also have news from the Trump administration on the meat industry and essential workers—and why PPE is so…
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JUST IN: For those just getting out of bed, STAT News is reporting that COVID-19 patients are responding to Gilead’s remdesivir – a sign of hope on the horizon.

We also have news from the Trump administration on the meat industry and essential workers—and why PPE is so important. And, we’re closing out World Immunization Awareness Week with some big news on a COVID-19 vaccine. Here are about 965 words, just under 5 minutes.

Thank essential workers – and PPE – for tonight’s pork chops

President Trump has declared meat-processing plants to be critical infrastructure and ordered them to remain open, even as COVID-19 has hit several plants across the country. 

Across the country, 20 meat-processing employees have died of COVID-19 and more than 20 plants have closed due to the outbreak, but Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to require them to stay open

The federal government released new guidance on protecting these workers, which includes a requirement that employers “conduct a hazard assessment” and “select and provide appropriate PPE to protect workers from hazards” as well as guidance on proper use and cleaning. 

We need to keep America’s food supply chains moving—and keep the people who work in them employed as much as we can in this difficult time. Americans don’t need to worry about food shortages and even more lost jobs on top of everything else. 

We also must ensure these workers and their families are protected against COVID-19—not only so we can keep supply chains and services moving, but also because it’s the right thing to do.

This is why PPE matters. It’s essential to keeping all essential workers safe, from those working on the front lines in hospitals and emergency services, to those working in food supply chains, grocery stores, for delivery services and trucking companies, and more. 

We’ve called on the federal government to protect these essential workers. We joined a multi-industry letter urging them to prioritize essential workers for COVID-19 testing and take steps to ensure their safety.

And our industry is helping to supply it. Several BIO members have shifted manufacturing to make and distribute vital PPE to front-line workers across the country. We’re grateful for everything our members are doing in this fight

Speaking of food… BIO is lucky to work from home—and work our way through our cookbooks and freezer stockpiles. If you have extra this month, join us in donating to the Capital Area Food Bank and supporting our neighbors in need. Learn more at www.capitalareafoodbank.org.

 

More Agriculture & Environment News: 

Ethanol Producer Magazine: Bill authorizes $500 million to support biofuel infrastructure
Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) introduced the Clean Fuels Deployment Act of 2020, which “aims to provide funding for installing and converting fuel pump infrastructure to deliver higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.”

 
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Celebrating World Immunization Awareness Week with big news

During World Immunization Awareness Week, there’s a lot of excitement about the prospect of a COVID-19 vaccine—which could be here even sooner than everyone hoped. 

What week is it again? The World Health Organization (WHO) declared April 24-30 World Immunization Awareness Week, to promote how vaccines are safe, effective, and save millions of lives every year. 

#VaccinesWork for All, this year’s theme, promotes the importance of routine immunization—because some 20 million children worldwide don’t get the vaccines they need, either due to lack of access or anti-vaccination rhetoric.

And we soon might have another important vaccine—for COVID-19, which the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) says could be available for essential health care workers as early as this year. 

CEPI is supporting nine COVID-19 vaccine projects globally—including candidates by BIO members Moderna, Inovio, and GSK, among others—and expects several to enter Phase II trials this summer, reports Bloomberg.

But remember, there’s still A LOT of work to do. As many as 90% of all clinical development programs fail, which is why we need so many in the pipeline. 

This is why it’s so important for policy to support vaccine R&D and investment, so biopharmas large and small can continue vital research, for COVID-19 and the many other diseases out there. 

But if anyone can get us there, it’s biotech.

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics in the pipeline

Learn more about what BIO members are doing to fight the coronavirus at www.bio.org/coronavirus

Listen to recent episodes of the I AM BIO Podcast about the importance of vaccines and Moderna’s COVID-19 research.

 

More Health Care News: 

POLITICO Pro [Subscription]: FDA schedules first in-person meeting in almost 2 months
The June 30 meeting “will focus on the agency’s transition from static data sets to real-time data dashboards, as well data security, privacy and sharing.” 

The Wall Street Journal: Race for Coronavirus Vaccine Accelerates as Pfizer Says U.S. Testing to Begin Next Week
The pharmaceutical firm joins various groups pushing to have vaccines ready for emergency use in the fall, the Journal reports.

 
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President Trump’s Wednesday: He’s having a phone call with food and agriculture industry leaders. He’ll also have a few in-person meetings, with the Governor of Louisiana, VP Pence, and industry executives.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Change of plans. The House will NOT return to Washington on May 4, after some backlash yesterday about whether or not it was safe, reports The Hill. At the moment, the Senate is still planning to return next week.                                                                                                                  

 
 
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