On World Health Day, a reminder of why collaboration matters

April 7, 2020
It’s World Health Day, a public health awareness day promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO)—and this year’s theme celebrates nurses and midwives, many of whom are caring for patients on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re thinking of you today, and…
BIO

It’s World Health Day, a public health awareness day promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO)—and this year’s theme celebrates nurses and midwives, many of whom are caring for patients on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re thinking of you today, and every day, as we race to find therapeutics and vaccines and deliver diagnostics and other tools and supplies for you to do your jobs safely.

Today, we’re looking at one example of how international collaboration is doing just that, plus, why you don’t need to worry about running out of food. Here are 850 words, just over 4 minutes.

On World Health Day, a reminder of why collaboration matters

 
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It’s World Health Day—a reminder of why we do what we do, and why it’s important to collaborate with our colleagues around the world. Here’s a look at what some of our colleagues in the UK are working on.

Synairgen, a small respiratory drug biotech in the UK, is starting the clinical trial on an antiviral drug showing promise in improving the lung function of patients with COVID-19. 

Hey, we know them! Synairgen is a member of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA), BIO’s British sister association—and BIA’s CEO, Steve Bates, is Chair of the International Council of Biotech Associations (ICBA), the coalition of biotechnology trade associations around the world. 

The drug is a formulation of interferon beta—a protein that “orchestrates the body’s antiviral responses.” In previous trials, it improved lung function in patients with asthma and respiratory viruses, and has shown promise against MERS-CoV, an infection similar to COVID-19, according to Synairgen’s press release

The Phase II trial will start imminently—and it is part of the world’s largest randomized trial of potential coronavirus treatments, with 1,000 patients across the UK. 

Joe’s World: This World Health Day, we’re thinking about nurses and other medical professionals caring for COVID-19 patients in the United States and around the world. It’s a reminder of why we do what we do—and why it’s more important than ever to put aside our individual interests and collaborate with colleagues globally on treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics for this deadly disease. We salute our colleagues at Synairgen, BIA, and ICBA on this important development, and we look forward to continued collaboration across companies and across borders. – Joe Damond, BIO’s Executive Vice President for International Affairs

For more information on our international collaborative efforts, visit www.internationalbiotech.org.

For more information on what BIO and our members are doing to fight COVID-19, visit www.bio.org/coronavirus.

 

More Health Care News: 

The Washington Times (Opinion): How the public sector is working with private firms to fight COVID-19
“Public health crises require an all-hands-on-deck approach. We can’t afford to have scientists working in isolation. That’s why the public-private cooperation highlighted at BIO’s summit was such an inspiration,” writes Peter J. Pitts, President and Co-Founder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.

Morning Consult (Opinion): How the Bayh-Dole Act Facilitates Development of Coronavirus Therapies
“As the urgency of finding a treatment and vaccine for the coronavirus accelerates, dozens of American biomedical companies, startups and universities are rushing to develop COVID-19 therapeutics. There’s a good chance the Bayh-Dole Act will play a critical behind-the-scenes role in facilitating these efforts.”

Biopharma Dive: GSK bets $250M on Vir's antibody approach to treating coronavirus
“Through the deal, GSK, one of the biggest vaccine manufacturers in the world, will gain access to Vir's technology for identifying drug targets common to viral families, like the coronavirus grouping of which SARS-CoV-2 is a part.”

On Bloomberg’s Balance of Power, BIO’s Jim Greenwood discussed the incredible work happening in labs across the country and highlighted the tremendous investments being made to combat the novel coronavirus. Watch the segment here: https://bit.ly/39R13dJ

 
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Biotech stocks the shelves

Social media posts about empty toilet paper shelves and flour shortages give you more anxiety during the pandemic—but thanks to biotech, you don’t need to worry about running out of food, explains BIO’s Karen Batra in a blog post

No, we’re not running out of food. As CNN reported, “shortages are caused by bottlenecks in the supply chain, not a lack of food…what happens over the next several months will determine whether those disruptions become more serious.” 

Biotech is ensuring we have necessary supplies. Biotech companies are shifting manufacturing and supply chains to meet demand—from biofuel and renewable chemical companies manufacturing hand sanitizer and sustainable PPE, to food and ag companies helping to keep grocery stores stocked with healthy food. 

BIO is urging specific government action to ensure the continued supply of critical products. We joined more than 100 organizations representing manufacturers, distributors, and the supply chain in a letter asking for clear definitions of “critical infrastructure” and to “take seriously the need to transport those products and have the workforce available to keep operations running.” 

We also continue to support all members working on creative solutions to the big challenges. From cleaning up air pollution and creating jobs by supporting low-carbon fuel initiatives and the biofuel industry, to ensuring a steady supply of healthy produce even in the face of climate change, biotech offers solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. 

Karen’s Conclusion: The public has many things to worry about right now, but the food supply is not one of them. For now, food is abundant—as long as we can get things where they need to go. This is just one of the many challenges brought about by coronavirus where the biotech industry is playing a role. From joining with our partners across the supply chain to protect workers and keep food moving, BIO members are shifting manufacturing to create needed supplies along with the innovators on the front line working to develop vaccines and treatments. – Karen Batra, BIO’s Managing Director of Agriculture & Environment Communications


 
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President Trump’s Tuesday: He’ll provide a closed-press update on small business relief. The Coronavirus Task Force is scheduled to hold a press briefing at 5pm ET.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Coronavirus recess through April 20.

 
 
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