An update on the COVID vaccine pipeline

August 31, 2020
It’s the last day of August—and we never thought we’d say this, but we’re so ready for summer to be over. Today, BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath shares her latest insights on the COVID vaccine race, and we look at the role of biotech in our #quarantinekitchens, in…

It’s the last day of August—and we never thought we’d say this, but we’re so ready for summer to be over. Today, BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath shares her latest insights on the COVID vaccine race, and we look at the role of biotech in our #quarantinekitchens, in around 650 words, 3 minutes, 20 seconds.

An update on the COVID vaccine pipeline

BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath joined the Council of State Governments podcast to talk about where we’re at in the COVID-19 vaccine race—and yes, she has a prediction.

Where do things stand? Right now, there are more than 670 COVID-19 projects in the pipeline, with 50% based in the United States and 70% from small companies, she said.     

She thinks more than one vaccine will cross the finish line—and we need more than one, to make a vaccine easier to administer widely and because different communities have different side effect profiles that might make one vaccine choice better for them than another.   

Sounds great. So, when can I get the shot? Dr. Michelle expects a vaccine will be available in the spring of 2021. 

But: “It’s important for people to realize that FDA is not scrimping on that phase 1, 2, and 3 process,” she continued. 

What’s keeping Dr. Michelle up at night? “If there’s one thing that’s keeping me up at night, it’s not our ability to make solutions that will stop COVID, but all of the potential subterfuge that’s taking place around the scientific process,” she concluded. “We need to reinforce how important it is to stand behind the scientific method and not let it fall prey to politics as usual—because that will cost lives.”

Listen to the whole thing to learn more about the importance of partnerships in this fight and how state and local governments can support biobased businesses and grow their economies.

Want to know more about what’s in the COVID-19 pipeline? Check out the BIO COVID-19 Therapeutic Development Tracker.

Want more Dr. Michelle? Check out her recent conversations with Moderna and Novavax on the I AM BIO Podcast. You can listen at or wherever you get your podcasts. She’ll be back with all-new episodes after Labor Day!


More Health Care News: 

The Washington Post: Large U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trials are halfway enrolled, but lag on participant diversity
“[O]nly about a fifth of participants are from Black and Hispanic communities, which have been hit hardest by the virus—lagging what several experts said should be the bare minimum of diversity.”


Biotech in our quarantine kitchens

If you’ve been cooking a lot during the pandemic, you’re not alone (see #quarantinekitchen)—and you likely have biotech to thank. BIO’s Cornelia Poku takes a look at how biotech has improved and protected some popular ingredients.

Potatoes: “Biotech company Simplot developed its Innate potatoes that have fewer bruises and brown spots and produce lower levels of natural acrylamide during cooking,” making them safer for humans to eat, she writes. 

Apples: “[B]iotechnology has improved Arctic Apples so they don’t turn brown when they’re bitten, sliced, bruised, or when damaged flesh is exposed to oxygen.” 

Corn: “Sweet corn is extremely susceptible to ravaging from insects. That’s why scientists developed a variety that can fight off beetles and moths.” 

Papaya: “Hawaii’s Rainbow Papaya is one of biotechnology’s greatest success stories,” she explains, as gene editing has allowed farmers to grow papaya resistant to ringspot virus, which previously decimated the state’s industry. 

Oranges: Regular readers know citrus greening is a big problem—but researchers are working hard to develop varieties that are resistant to the disease.

This all sounds delicious, right? Yes—but we need policy and public opinion to catch up with the science and help bring these safe, nutritious foods to the market. Learn more about food and farm innovation. 

Read the whole thingand get some recipe recommendations to take you through the end of the summer.

And join us next month for BIO IMPACT Digital, the agriculture and environment biotech industry’s premier conference, where we’ll discuss biotech’s contributions and future potential in food, among other topics. Click here to register.

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Monday: Lunch with the veep, then meeting with the Attorney General and the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Pretty quiet day. Coronavirus aid talks remain complicated, says The Hill.


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