SEATTLE – Tracing the family tree of COVID-19 through its evolving DNA sequence makes it possible to disprove many false claims circulating on social media about the novel coronavirus, and, in particular, that it was generated in a covert biological weapons program. “From everything I’ve looked at, there is zero evidence for genetic engineering; it looks like normal evolution,” said Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who has been using genomes sequences taken from patient samples to track the spread of the virus since Jan. 11.
BEIJING – Researchers from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have developed a diagnostic system that they claim is the world’s most comprehensive as it can identify 30 to 40 pathogens in one single test within an hour.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar was peppered with questions about the Trump administration’s budget proposal for fiscal 2021 during a Feb. 13 Senate hearing. However, another theme that resonated during the hearing was Senate legislation addressing drug prices. Azar addressed the issue of price caps, while noting that the bill “leaves plenty of room” for both ample profit margins and innovation in drug development.
BOGOTA, Colombia – Medical supply manufacturers in Argentina have seen a surge in demand for their products from China, which is reaching out globally for the goods it needs to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19.
BEIJING – Chinese biotech companies are focusing on fighting the novel coronavirus, now named as COVID-19 by the WHO, after the country’s government called for all possible assistance. With its Trimer-Tag technology, Chengdu-based Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc. is among the first to reveal production of a vaccine candidate against COVID-19.
Biopharma happenings, including deals and partnerships, grants, preclinical data and other news in brief: Afaxys, Amarillo, Amorchem, Calidi, Codagenix, CSL Behring, Dendreon, Evgen, Forma, Homology, Human Microbiology Institute, Promedior, Riptide, Roche, Tetra Bio-Pharma, Therapeuticsmd, Xiamen Weiyang.
PERTH, Australia – As of Feb. 12, Australia’s Department of Health confirmed 15 cases of novel coronavirus in Australia (five in Queensland, four in New South Wales, four in Victoria and two in South Australia). Of the confirmed 15 cases, five people have recovered and the others are in stable condition.