On vaccine manufacturing, distribution, and hope

May 20, 2020
Lots of questions today—on vaccine manufacturing and distribution, on whether we should get excited (yet) about potential vaccine candidates, and on whether bats are to blame for the pandemic. We have some answers, as well as the latest news from Washington (there's a…
BIO

Lots of questions today—on vaccine manufacturing and distribution, on whether we should get excited (yet) about potential vaccine candidates, and on whether bats are to blame for the pandemic. We have some answers, as well as the latest news from Washington (there's a lot!) in around 900 words, 4 minutes, 30 seconds.

On vaccine manufacturing, distribution, and hope

News about COVID-19 vaccine candidates moving to clinical trials and showing promising early results brings the world hope—but also invites questions about when they will be approved, how they will be manufactured and distributed, and who will get them first. We have a new resource to answer some of these questions—as well as some wisdom from Moderna’s CEO about the outlook for a vaccine.

First, it’s important to understand how vaccines are procured and distributed. BIO released a new resource to explain the vaccine development, manufacturing, and distribution during a pandemic.

As BIO points out, public-private partnerships are essential. The federal government funds research on basic science, which drug manufacturing companies then turn into potential vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics—as we’re seeing more than 100 global companies doing right now.   

Longer-term preparedness is also needed. That's why Congress should replenish and continue to fully fund BARDA, the Project BioShield Special Reserve Fund (SRF), and the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)—as well as ensure biotech companies can recover investments, sustain manufacturing in the face of uncertainty, and reinvest funds into the post-market clinical, regulatory, and manufacturing lifecycle.  

Because vaccine development is not easy, as Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel explains in an op-ed for the World Economic Forum. He describes the complex R&D process and why we should be cautiously hopeful.

But in this global crisis, it’s important to remember who the real enemy is—and the importance of collaboration. “Our perspective at Moderna is that the only competitor we are racing against is the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the resulting devastation it brings,” he continues. “To us, more vaccines are welcome in this battle—and they are critical to addressing the level of human need around the world.”

Learn more about the vaccine candidates from BIO members Moderna and Inovio on our blog.

Learn more about how the biotech industry is battling the coronavirus at www.bio.org/coronavirus.

 

More Health Care News: 

Biopharma Dive: Biotech companies raise cash as coronavirus updates lift stocks
“[E]ight drugmakers, including Moderna and bluebird bio, announced plans to raise a combined sum of nearly $3 billion dollars via offerings of new stock and debt.” 

Bloomberg: Trump investing millions to bring drugmaking back to U.S.
“On Tuesday, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority awarded a $345 million contract to a group led by Virginia-based drug company Phlow Corp. to make medicines that have fallen into short supply.” 

POLITICO Pro [Subscription]: FDA to disclose antibody tests that don't pass agency review
“The FDA is planning to publicly list firms that aren’t seeking authorization for coronavirus antibody tests under the agency’s tougher new standards, as it looks to discourage use of poorly performing tests that came onto market under laxer restrictions, the agency told POLITICO.”

 
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BIOTECHNOLOGY: BEYOND IMAGINATION
Sangamo Therapeutics: A New Approach to Alzheimer's
Sangamo and Biogen's Gene Regulation Therapy to Fight Alzheimer's.png
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A true pioneer in genomic medicine, Sangamo Therapeutics uses four types of technologies—gene therapy, cell therapy, in vivo genome editing, in vivo genome regulation—to focus on the genetic causes of diseases such as hemophilia, Fabry, and Alzheimer’s.

The company recently announced a collaboration with Biogen to develop ST-501, a gene regulation therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and other tauopathies, using Sangamo’s zinc finger protein technology.

The hope? This technology may one day slow or even halt the disease.

Click here to watch and learn more.

 

Are bats to blame?

Everyone’s talking about bats and the coronavirus—and not in a good way. But are we certain bats are to blame? Are bats even all that bad? Let’s take a look inside the bat cave—and revisit the importance of One Health policies.

Scientists are pretty sure the coronavirus jumped from a bat to a human, as Dr. William Karesh of the EcoHealth Alliance explained in a recent episode of the I AM BIO Podcast

But the exact where, when, and how is a mystery. “Researchers overwhelmingly think that it’s a wild virus, which probably passed to people through an intermediate species,” reports Nature. “But no one has found the virus in the wild yet, so other explanations cannot be ruled out entirely.”

We may never know with 100% certainty, but it’s important to try to find out. Understanding COVID-19’s origin and genome and what animals it can infect will help us fight it—and help us prepare for future zoonotic disease pandemics.

And hey—quit picking on the bats! “They are pollinators, seed dispersers, and biological control agents,” an important part of the agriculture chain, explains tropical ecologist Enrique Ortiz. (Besides, other animals humans are in contact with regularly—including pigs, birds, and cows—cause disease, too.)

The bottom line? The blame doesn’t lie entirely with bats. Yes, COVID-19 likely jumped from a bat to a human at some point, but humans played a role, too—by encroaching on natural habitats, contributing to climate change, and engaging in illegal wildlife trade. 

This is why One Health matters. We must continue to research these diseases and the links between humans, animals, and the environment—before it’s too late.

 

More Agriculture & Environment News:

POLITICO Pro [Subscription]: Clean energy backers' anger grows as House ignores aid plea
“Some industry trade associations and green groups appear content to wait for a future aid bill. But other clean energy backers say the House Democrats' latest $3 trillion bill blows another chance to help the ailing sector and at the same time push one of the party's top policy priorities of addressing climate change—and they're tired of waiting until next time.”

 
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President Trump’s Wednesday: Yesterday, he said he’s cutting regulations. Today, he’s talking with Hispanic community leaders, then meeting with the Governors of Arkansas and Kansas. The press secretary is scheduled to hold a briefing at 3 PM ET. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The Senate is in session, and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will testify during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on oversight of the agency today. The House is not in session, but the Small Business Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship Subcommittee will hold a virtual forum on the economic challenges facing rural communities during the crisis.

 
 
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