Your COVID vaccine questions, answered

July 14, 2020
BIO leadership were in the news yesterday, answering some of your pressing questions about a coronavirus vaccine. More on that, plus a lot of links and what’s happening in Washington, in around 730 words, or 3 and a half minutes.
BIO

BIO leadership were in the news yesterday, answering some of your pressing questions about a coronavirus vaccine. More on that, plus a lot of links and what’s happening in Washington, in around 730 words, or 3 and a half minutes.

Your COVID vaccine questions, answered

BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath appeared on MSNBC yesterday for a quick hit with some important updates on vaccine R&D and timelines.

To catch you up, in just 24 weeks, the biotech industry has started more than 635 projects specifically aimed at fighting COVID-19—135 of which are aimed at generating a vaccine, said Dr. McMurry-Heath

How do we know that a vaccine developed so quickly will be safe and effective? “Just because this progress has been fast and fruitful doesn’t mean corners have been cut. This progress has come because there has been unprecedented cooperation,” she said. 

What about FDA approval? “I used to work at the Food and Drug Administration, and I know firsthand that agency does not cut corners when it comes to making sure that the products that come to market are safe and effective,” she continued.

 
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Ok, so really, when can we expect a vaccine? The virus is not mutating quickly, so it’s letting scientists catch up, she said—and she’s confident that “by this time in the spring of next year,” we’ll be talking about successful vaccines.

And will there be enough for everyone? The biotech industry is not just working on how to make a vaccine, but also “what’s needed to manufacture these vaccines at scale” to make sure we have enough when a vaccine is approved. 

Another take: Speaking on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Dr. Jeremy Levin, BIO Chairman and CEO of Ovid Therapeutics, said “we will definitely know” within six months if we have an effective vaccine, and then we need to look at developing the manufacturing capacity to deliver hundreds of millions of doses. (And he’s confident we’ll deliver.)

 
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The bottom line: “We’re talking about a process that’s going to take some time, but that shows great promise,” said Dr. McMurry-Heath. 

You know you want to know more. Dr. Levin’s new book, Biotechnology in the Time of COVID-19, has thoughts from 27 biotech industry leaders on how they are approaching the pandemic—and it’s available now via Amazon.

 

More News: 

Fierce Biotech: Angelini lands EU rights to Ovid's phase 3 rare disease drug
“Italy’s Angelini Pharma is paying $20 million upfront to secure a license to a drug that is due to come through a phase 3 trial in Angelman syndrome by the end of the year.” 

Healthcare Finance: Stakeholders urge CMS to finalize new CAR-T therapy payment rule
“In the letter, the stakeholders argued that CAR-T therapies offer improved outcomes for patients with relapsed/refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and provides hope for many more with other hard-to-treat cancers.” 

Reuters: Pharmas restart drug trials after pandemic-related declines, Medidata finds
“The research, which was prepared by clinical trial technology company Medidata, shows that the number of new subjects entering trials increased 112% in June compared with the low point in April.” 

The New York Times: How koalas with an STD could help humanity
“When it comes to finding a vaccine for chlamydia, the world’s most common sexually transmitted infection, koalas may prove a key ally.” 

The Washington Post: Operation Warp Speed is pushing for COVID-19 therapeutics by early fall
“New treatment options for COVID-19 could arrive months before even the most optimistic timeline for a vaccine, senior Trump administration officials said at a briefing Monday.”

 
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President Trump’s Tuesday: Meeting with the Secretary of State today. Meanwhile, STAT News has a deep dive into the CDC in the Trump era.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: FY 2021 appropriations and the next coronavirus package remain the big topics of conversation this week. Today at 10:45 ET, the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer will hold a virtual policy briefing, “Guardrails to Ensure a Safe and Effective COVID-19 Vaccine.” More hearings we’re watching below.

On Deck This Week: 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 12:00 PM ET | House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets: Promoting Economic Recovery: Examining Capital Markets and Worker Protections in the COVID-19 Era

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at 1:00 PM ET | House Small Business Committee: Long-Lasting Solutions for a Small Business Recovery 

Friday, July 17, 2020 at 1:30 PM ET | House Science Subcommittee on Energy: From Lab to Market: Accelerating Our Progress Toward Economic Recovery and a Clean Energy Future

 
 
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