Will the COVID-19 vaccines work against new strains?

February 19, 2021
So many amazing scientific breakthroughs this week—from NASA landing the Perseverance rover on Mars, to geneticists announcing they sequenced DNA from mammoth teeth that are 1 MILLION years old. We end the week by answering more questions about another amazing…
BIO

So many amazing scientific breakthroughs this week—from NASA landing the Perseverance rover on Mars, to geneticists announcing they sequenced DNA from mammoth teeth that are 1 MILLION years old. We end the week by answering more questions about another amazing breakthrough—the COVID-19 vaccines—and explain how science is making our clothes more sustainable. (930 words, 4 minutes, 30 seconds)

 

Meet Leslie: Innovating to Save Lives

I am BIO: Meet Leslie
 
 

Leslie always knew she wanted to save lives—and credits her teachers with inspiring her to get into science.

She’s now a research associate at Athersys, a regenerative medicine company that is developing innovative cell therapies to treat critical care areas with high unmet medical needs, such as stroke. 

Leslie talks about her work at this innovative company that’s not only helping patients but is also accepting of its employees.

Watch Leslie’s story and share your own.

 
 
 
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Will the COVID-19 vaccines work against new strains?—and more questions answered

 
 

About 10% of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine—and if you haven’t yet, your turn will likely come soon with the Biden administration announcing it will distribute 13.5 million doses per week. Understandably, there are a lot of questions—but we have answers.

I want a vaccine now. Who is eligible to receive the vaccine? Even with the rollout progressing, there are still a relatively limited number of vaccines available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines to states on who should receive the vaccine first, based on the most high-risk populations. Click here for the latest guidelines.

Should I be worried about side effects? As with many vaccines, mild side effects are common—and in many cases, they’re signs that the vaccine is working. Watch:

 
Should I be worried about COVID-19 vaccine side effects?
 

Will the vaccine work against new strains? Viruses mutate all the time. While we’re still waiting for data to be released, public health experts stress the current vaccines are effective enough against variants to make people less sick, prevent hospitalizations and deaths, and stop the spread.

The bottom line: Getting vaccinated will slow the spread of the virus, giving it fewer opportunities to replicate—and therefore fewer opportunities to mutate again in the future. 

We answer these questions and more at www.COVIDVaccineFacts.org. We just posted a dozen new questions, including: 

P.S. Watch our new video to learn how vaccines were developed so quickly.

 

More Health Care News:

Novavax: Novavax announces MOU with Gavi for cumulative supply to COVAX Facility of 1.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine
“NVX-CoV2373 is being studied in two ongoing pivotal phase 3 clinical trials: in the United States and Mexico, as well as in the UK, for the prevention of COVID-19.” 

STAT News: Pharma’s ambitious new antibiotic venture hires a CEO to fix a ‘broken’ pipeline
“[A]n ambitious pharmaceutical industry venture to tackle antibiotic resistance has hired its first chief executive officer and received $140 million in additional funding commitments.”

 
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BIO Celebrates Black History Month
Lisa Jackson.jpg

As the first Black administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson put a focus on environmental justice and ensuring all communities can enjoy clean air, clean water, and job growth.

With a Master’s in chemical engineering from Princeton, Jackson began working as a scientist at the EPA in 1987. In 2006, she was appointed commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

She served as EPA administrator under President Obama, from 2009-2013. “During her tenure, Administrator Jackson focused on seven priorities for EPA's future: taking action on climate change; improving air quality; cleaning up our communities; protecting America's waters; assuring the safety of chemicals; expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice; and building stronger state and tribal partnerships,” says the EPA

She’s now the vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives for Apple.

 

Biotech fashion brands to watch

 
 

Virtual New York Fashion Week just wrapped up—with a certain second stepdaughter making her runway debut. And while we’re still deciding exactly what we want to wear when we can go out again, we know we want it to be sustainable. BIO’s Cornelia Poku explains how biotech can help.

Biotech companies are stepping up their fashion game, by creating fabrics and inputs that are fully biodegradable and/or emit fewer greenhouse gases. A few brands to watch include…

Covalent, the high-end fashion brand from Newlight Technologies, which captures carbon and turns it into accessories like glasses, purses, and phone cases

“This prevents the use of virgin plastic materials and contributes to lowering the amount of lingering greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere,” Cornelia explains. 

Qwstion is making nearly 100% biodegradable bags using bananatex, which is made from bananas and fully biodegradable. 

This is another reason why we need to protect bananas from disease—another challenge that biotech has the potential to solve.

Another company is making shirts and hoodies that literally turn into dirt when you bury them in the ground—read the whole thing to find out more.

And don't forget about your laundry! A biotech startup is cleaning up laundry detergent with biobased enzymes, reports Fast Company.

 

More Agriculture and Environment News:

Agri-Pulse: Biotech advocate warns of sustainability hurdles
The Genetic Literacy Project’s Jon Entine “spoke favorably of herbicide-resistant crops, saying they enable farmers to reduce their tillage, which releases nitrous oxide, a powerful GHG, into the atmosphere.”

The New York Times: Meet Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned black-footed ferret
“Her birth represents the first cloning of an endangered species native to North America, and may bring needed genetic diversity to the species.”

 
 
 
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BIO Beltway Report
BIO Beltway Report
 
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President Biden’s Friday: Speaking during the virtual Munich Security Conference, then heading to Kalamazoo, MI, to visit a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing plant. The COVID-19 Response Team will hold a press briefing at 11:45 AM ET.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Senate HELP scheduled a confirmation hearing on February 25 for two health-related nominees: Vivek Murthy for surgeon general, and Rachel Levine for assistant secretary of Health and Human Services (H/T POLITICO Pulse).

 
 
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