The May 12 Senate hearing regarding the COVID-19 pandemic included the usual conversations about contact tracing, but Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he is “cautiously optimistic” that one of the vaccines currently in trial in the U.S. will work, but that it is unlikely a vaccine will be ready by September 2020. In contrast, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said testing capacity may reach 50 million tests per month by that time, thanks in part to the fact that antigen testing is now part of the FDA’s emergency use authorization mechanism.
In the rush to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, integral parts of the equation are being overlooked in the U.S., according to a whistleblower complaint filed this week by Rick Bright over his removal as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Even if millions of doses of vaccine are ready to go by January, as the NIH’s Anthony Fauci a few weeks ago said could happen, there may not be enough needles and syringes to deliver those doses.
Given all the public-private partnerships responding to the need for timely COVID-19 therapies, diagnostics and vaccines, the demands to forgo patents or exclusive licenses for coronavirus products and the clamor that industry shouldn’t “profit” from U.S. taxpayer-supported research are growing louder.
“Vaccines, obviously, are the ultimate solution for pandemics,” Rino Rappuoli told BioWorld. They have, he added, “already eliminated a lot of pandemic threats – smallpox, influenza, poliomyelitis.” And the road to normalcy from the current pandemic, or any pandemic, is likely to be open only once there is a vaccine.
DUBLIN – The EMA has activated a COVID-19 task force to coordinate and accelerate the European regulatory response to the pandemic. The task force is intended to take a lead role in shaping the development, authorization and post-approval surveillance of drugs and vaccines for treating or preventing COVID-19 infection.
The stimulus bill passed by the U.S. Senate March 26 on a vote of 96-0 does more than throw $2.2 trillion into the war against COVID-19. “This is not … a stimulus package. It is emergency relief,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor before the vote.
Business as usual only three months ago has transformed into health care industry overdrive as biopharma and med-tech companies scramble to test and scale-up treatments, vaccines and diagnostics to address COVID-19.
As the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, companies are scrambling to develop effective diagnostics and vaccines to contain the outbreak and reduce future threats. Among those is Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., which has been awarded a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to speed testing and scale of smart delivery device for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.