We were warned. Here’s what we do now.

April 20, 2020
The experts warned us. But luckily, they know what to do now. We’re kicking off Monday with lessons from the past and a look at what's in the future, in around 730 words, or 3 minutes, 40 seconds.
BIO

The experts warned us. But luckily, they know what to do now. We’re kicking off Monday with lessons from the past and a look at what's in the future, in around 730 words, or 3 minutes, 40 seconds.

We were warned. Here’s what we do now.

 
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Depending on where you live, it may be week 3, 4, 5 of lockdown—and you might have exhausted your Netflix queue. Luckily, we have two things for you: a new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast explaining how we were warned about the possibility of this pandemic—and a video discussion with experts about how we move forward.

“We were warned.” That’s the message of the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, featuring two leaders of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, which was founded in 2014 to study the state of biodefense in the United States and provide recommendations for how to prepare for situations like this pandemic. (BIO’s Jim Greenwood is a commissioner and founding member.) 

“All of this was perfectly predictable,” said Dr. Asha George, Executive Director of the Commission. “We should have known that the coronavirus was going to mutate and that it was going to do what viruses do: mutate enough to infect people, spread broadly, be able to replicate, and not really kill as many of the hosts as a highly pathogenic virus could, like Ebola.”

Commission Co-Chair Sen. Joe Lieberman agrees: It was “so clear that something bad was going to happen eventually…in terms of a naturally occurring biological attack” such as an infectious disease outbreak. 

“We don’t have time” to take months and years to analyze what happened and make changes to government, Dr. George continued. “We have to treat this with even more urgency than we did after 9/11—because the next biological event could very well happen now.”  

The good news: We can come together to fight this, said Sen. Lieberman.

Experts discussed how to do this during last week’s WuXi AppTec Online Forum, which was widely viewed around the world, as scientists and CEOs explained what they’re doing to fight the pandemic

In fact, the biotechnology sector has around 200 COVID-19 projects in process, with a lot of cross-border and cross-industry collaboration, said Jim Greenwood during the forum. 

Jim’s Judgment: We have just thrown ourselves at this disease with every intent to defeat it—and defeat it we will. – BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood 

Listen to the podcast at www.bio.org/podcast or wherever you get your podcasts including AppleGoogle, and Spotify

Watch the WuXi AppTec Forum here

 

More Health Care News: 

Reuters: Novartis, U.S. drug regulator agree to malaria drug trial against COVID-19
“Novartis has won the go-ahead from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct a randomized trial of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.”

STAT: NIH partners with 16 drug companies in hopes of accelerating COVID-19 treatments and vaccines
“The partnership, to be known as Accelerating Covid-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines, or ACTIV, is meant to standardize research between the federally funded researchers and a broad array of drug companies, and prioritize research into drugs and vaccines that are having high near-term potential.” 

The New York Times (Opinion): The story of remdesivir
“[T]here should be no big-pharma haters in pandemics,” writes columnist Bret L. Stephens. 

 
 
 
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The buildings of the future are biotech

“Living architecture,” or buildings grown by bacteria, sounds like something out of a science fiction movie—but these are the buildings of the future, says one scientist in a new piece for The Conversation.

The big question: “[W]hat if buildings—walls, roofs, floors, windows—were actually alive—grown, maintained and healed by living materials?” asks Wil Srubar, Assistant Professor of Architectural Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Colorado Boulder.  

This research is in progress, thanks to synbio—or synthetic biology, with researchers programming E. coli and cyanobacteria, an organism similar to green algae, to make building materials. 

They’re sustainable—using less energy and emitting less CO2 than conventional building materials.

But as with many cutting-edge innovations, there are some challenges—such as cost, testing, certification, and scaling production, as well as getting consumers to warm up to the idea. 

This is why BIO continues our work—to support these innovations and ensure policymakers and the public are educated about them, so we can maximize the potential for the betterment of society and the planet.

 
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President Trump’s Monday: The Coronavirus Task Force is scheduled to hold a press briefing at 5 PM ET. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Still on coronavirus recess through May 4, but House Democrats are reportedly getting closer to a deal with the White House on small business funding. They’re also still thinking about drug pricing, according to POLITICO Prescription Pulse. Meanwhile, congressional leadership is readying the coronavirus oversight panel.

 
 
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