A vital dose of vaccine education

April 27, 2020
It’s World Immunization Awareness Week, with the theme Vaccines Work for All. The world is watching the biotech industry race to find a COVID-19 vaccine—yet anti-vaccination rhetoric is, unfortunately, alive and well. Today’s new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast…

It’s World Immunization Awareness Week, with the theme Vaccines Work for All. The world is watching the biotech industry race to find a COVID-19 vaccine—yet anti-vaccination rhetoric is, unfortunately, alive and well. Today’s new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast explores the importance of vaccines, and how a COVID-19 vaccine will bring the world out of this crisis. Here are around 730 words, 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

A vital dose of vaccine education

In the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood spoke with Phyllis Arthur, BIO’s VP for Infectious Diseases and Diagnostic Policy, about the importance of vaccination and vaccine education—and what the industry is doing to get us a COVID-19 vaccine, as quickly as possible.

Vaccines save lives. The polio vaccine spared 16 million people from paralysis and saved over 1 million lives. 

But anti-vaccination rhetoric continues to plague the public conversation—despite the fact the Lancet study claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and autism was found to be fabricated. 

The truth? Vaccines are safe and effective. There are millions of vaccine doses given every year with very few side effects, Phyllis explained.

So, as we work on COVID-19, we must also continue to educate the public about vaccine efficacy and safety—so everyone gets the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available. “Measles outbreaks in California will seem benign compared to what awaits us if ill-informed anti-vaxxers are allowed to corrupt the public conversation while the biotech community works overtime to deliver a vaccine for COVID-19,” Jim added.

Vaccines require a huge investment in trials and manufacturing. They’re “a commitment that a lot of our companies have made because they are such a fundamental part of public health,” Phyllis noted. 

This is where BIO can help. We launched the Coronavirus Collaboration Initiative, to help about 50 BIO member companies collaborate and get through the “bottlenecks” that slow down medicine development.

And we’ve already seen “rapid deals,” Phyllis said, because companies are eager to use every option in the toolbox and bring possible vaccines and treatments to clinical trial ASAP. 

We’re also helping all kinds of businesses prepare, by providing templates for business continuity plans, the latest travel and work-from-home policies, and the latest guidance so companies, particularly small ones without emergency plans in place, can keep up the work to find these cures, she continued. 

“This is the time,” Phyllis added. Innovative technology is allowing the industry to move faster than ever before—with experimental vaccines in the pipeline just three weeks after getting the virus’s genetic sequence.

And whatever we do now will help us prepare for the next pandemic. “This is a great opportunity for our industry to show how much we can do to save lives and make us all safer,” concluded Phyllis. “What we’re going to learn now, we’re going to apply to the next one—and we’re going to see more of these. The more ready we can be, the more we can learn, the more we invest in biotech, the faster we’ll be able to save lives for the next one, too.”

Listen at www.bio.org/podcast or wherever you get your podcasts including Apple, Google, and Spotify

Learn more at www.bio.org/coronavirus.

More News:

The Boston Globe (Opinion): Cautiously optimistic about discovering drugs to treat the coronavirus
“While there are of course no guarantees, we are cautiously optimistic and hopeful that one day soon, with the help of the US biopharmaceutical industry, the world will celebrate the discovery of one or more drugs to treat COVID-19,” writes BIO Chair Jeremy Levin and fellow CEOs Mark Lampert, Michel Vounatsos, and John Maraganore.

Reuters: Countries, companies risk billions in race for coronavirus vaccine
“‘The crisis in the world is so big that each of us will have to take maximum risk now to put this disease to a stop,’ said Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, which has partnered with the U.S. government on a $1 billion investment to speed development and production of its still-unproven vaccine. ‘If it fails,’ Stoffels told Reuters, ‘it will be bad.’” 

The Wall Street Journal (Opinion): America needs to win the coronavirus vaccine race
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb discusses the importance of developing a vaccine as quickly as possible. 

POLITICO: North American trade deal to take effect on July 1
“The president is eager for his signature trade agreement to enter into force but the economic downturn is expected to mute its effects.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Monday: Speaking with governors and industry execs today. The Coronavirus Task Force is scheduled to hold a press briefing at 5 PM ET.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Recess until at least May 4.

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