We have the vaccines—now we need a vaccination plan

January 5, 2021
All eyes are on Georgia, where today’s two U.S. Senate runoff elections will determine the balance of power in Washington. In the meantime, we’re looking at why we need a national vaccination plan and what investors are thinking about synthetic biology and gene editing…
BIO

All eyes are on Georgia, where today’s two U.S. Senate runoff elections will determine the balance of power in Washington. In the meantime, we’re looking at why we need a national vaccination plan and what investors are thinking about synthetic biology and gene editing. (777 words, 4 minutes)

 

We have the vaccines—now we need a vaccination plan

 
 

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel—but there are miles to go before we can say it’s over. Here’s where things stand.

We’re starting 2021 with two vaccines—Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna—being administered across the United States. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson is not far behind and Novavax began its phase 3 trial in December.

We’re seeing incredible innovation in therapeutics and diagnostics, too—and as we discussed yesterday, an at-home COVID-19 test could be here soon.

But vaccinations are behind schedule. As of yesterday, around 4.5 million doses had been administered, “just a fraction of the 20 million initially expected by the end of 2020,” reports CBS News.

“We had a national vaccine plan—a plan to get a vaccine—but we’ve never had a national vaccination plan,” said BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath on CNN. Academics and clinical providers have been clear that we had to also “figure out how we get the shots in arms.”

But for now, we must follow the science and give people two full doses of the vaccines as determined by the clinical trials. “While we’re very open to seeing how we can be flexible and doing the studies to know for sure, at this point what we know is that the original doses work in the original schedule,” she said in response to a question about people potentially receiving half doses of the Moderna vaccine. (FDA said yesterday that they agree.)

Watch the whole clip. 

Visit www.COVIDVaccineFacts.org for more vaccine facts.

 

More Health Care News: 

Chemical & Engineering News: FDA gives its nod to 53 new drugs in 2020
“The US Food and Drug Administration kept up a blistering pace of new drug approvals last year, all while navigating the urgent evaluation of tests, drugs, and vaccines in development for COVID-19. The agency approved 53 new products in 2020, the second-highest number in more than 20 years.”

 
 
 
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2 industries to watch: synthetic biology and gene editing

 
 

What industries do investors think will “break out” in 2021? We’re not surprised to see that biotech tops one investor’s list of “hypergrowth industries” to watch.

#1 hypergrowth industry: synthetic biology, a brand new sector that allows you to “program” biology, says Stephen McBride, Chief Analyst at RiskHedge, which focuses on disruption research.

“How does it work? In short, engineers design sequences of DNA on computers. Then they physically print out those sequences and insert them into living things. This can then add beneficial character traits to a living thing,” he explains.

And it has a variety of exciting applications—from sustaining agriculture and transforming the food system, to creating safe and sustainable hand sanitizers and even accelerating COVID-19 vaccine and diagnostic R&D.

And #2: genomics, including mapping and editing DNA, which can help us with detecting diseases faster and “making cures for certain diseases possible for the first time in history,” says McBride. 

Beyond health care, gene editing is transforming food and agriculture, as we explained yesterday, making our food systems more sustainable, nutritious, and resilient.

What does success look like for these industries? “The success of the bioeconomy has to be measured by our ability to not only establish resilience but our ability to improve equity for all,” BIO’s Stephanie Batchelor said last month—by improving access to health care and nutritious food, cleaning up the air, and creating jobs. 

Dive deeper: Dr. Jason Kelly, CEO and Co-Founder of Gingko Bioworks, recently joined the I AM BIO Podcast to discuss how his synthetic biology company helped Moderna develop its COVID-19 vaccine and the future of this technology. Listen at www.bio.org/podcast or your favorite podcast platform, including AppleGoogle, or Spotify.

 
 
 
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BIO Beltway Report
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President Trump’s Tuesday: Per the official schedule, “President Trump will work from early in the morning until late in the evening. He will make many calls and have many meetings.” 

President-elect Biden’s Tuesday: More than 170 business leaders urged Congress to certify Biden’s win.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: ICYMI, the House passed a new rules package last week that changes the rules around “pay-go” and allows more exemptions to bills that need to be funded, making it easier for them to act on legislation on climate and health care, as two examples. Regardless of the outcome of today’s runoffs in Georgia, both the House and Senate have indicated that they will not be conducting significant legislative business between now and the inauguration, with the focus being on negotiating over how committees will operate as well as planning for confirmation hearings. BIO has been preparing information for new freshmen and meeting with new members and staff to champion development this year, and we’ll have more on what to expect from the new Congress in the coming weeks.

 
 
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