Highlights from CBF’s COVID-19 Legislative Webinar on Testing, Treatments and Vaccines

Industry News

Legislative Webinar on COVID-19 Testing, Treatments and Vaccines

June 2020

Legislative Webinar on COVID-19 Testing, Treatments and Vaccines

Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin hosted a legislative webinar with more than 50 legislators and staff on May 28th to discuss novel COVID-19 testing, therapies and vaccines that will help diagnose, treat and prevent this deadly virus. Cohosted by Biocom, BIO, the California Life Sciences Association and PhRMA, the briefing provided an overview from expert speakers who are on the front lines of this critical public health issue and are working to find solutions to address this global pandemic.

Highlights included:

  • Richard Moscicki, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Executive VP of Science and Regulatory Advocacy at PhRMA, gave an overview of how the life sciences industry is fighting COVID-19 using decades of experience with previous viruses. He discussed the significant investments made by life science companies to develop new therapies and treatments and pointed out that scientists are working around the clock to develop and supply vaccines and treatments quickly and broadly once successful candidates are identified.
  • Steven K. Galson, MD, MPH, Senior VP of Global Regulatory Affairs and Safety at Amgen discussed pioneering research collected in Iceland through their subsidiary deCODE which discovered: 1) how the virus is more widespread than previously thought and that people with no symptoms can still spread the disease; 2) the effectiveness of aggressive testing, isolation, and quarantining to contain the virus; and 3) how genetic information is critical for understanding how the virus works and spreads.
  • John S. Frels, Ph.D., VP, Research and Development, Immunoassay/Clinical Chemistry, Diagnostics, at Abbott overviewed COVID-19 tests. He discussed Abbott’s molecular tests, which identify active COVID-19 infections using large-scale, high-volume testing as well as their point-of-care tests that scan fewer people but deliver results in as little as five minutes. He also discussed their antibody test that determines if a person was previously infected with the virus.
  • Ed Harnaga, VP of R&D Corporate Affairs at Pfizer Inc., discussed their COVID-19 vaccine, which uses novel mRNAtechnology. He explained when the vaccine is injected into the body the mRNA instructs cells to create antibodies turning the cells into a vaccine manufacturing system. This has an advantage over traditional vaccines because it can be made directly from the genetic code of the virus and entered into clinical trials in a matter of weeks, rather than months or years. He also discussed the massive investment Pfizer is making to bring the vaccine to market in the next 6-9 months.
  • Tomas Cihlar, PhD, VPof Virology at Gilead Sciences, discussed COVID-19 antiviral treatments in development including Gilead’s FDA-approved COVID-19 treatment, remdesivir, which is being used to successfully treat patients infected with the virus. Cihlar discussed two groups of therapeutics, including antivirals, like remdesivir, that target virus replication which curbs the severe spread within the respiratory system. The second group of therapeutic have anti-inflammatory agents that inhibit immune anti-inflammatory responses in the body. Gilead has committed to providing remdesivir at no cost for the COVID‑19 response and will distribute 2 million doses by the end of 2020.

As many noted during the briefing, there are so many experts here in California and across the globe who are working tirelessly to get in front of this virus, develop an immediate response, improve care and most importantly save lives.

For more information contact Laura Fitzgerald in Assemblymember Mullin’s office at laura.fitzgerald@asm.ca.gov or Patty Cooper with the California Biotechnology Foundation at patty.cooper@cabiotech.org.

Highlights from Annual National BIO Conference as the Conference Goes Digital

The first ever BIO Digital Week was held June 8-13 and virtually convened over 7,000 participants from 64 countries and 28 time zones for meaningful, thought-provoking conversations to showcase the work the life sciences industry is doing to combat the COVID pandemic, and beyond. Below are some of the highlights:

  • Bio Digital Interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, MD: Race to a Vaccine
    During a one-on-one chat with BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and how the biotech industry “has stepped up to the plate.”Watch the full conversation here.
  • Bio Digital Interview: Heal Our Social Genome
    BIO’s President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath also led a discussion with Black CEOs of biotechnology companies including Dr. Tony Coles, CEO and Chair of the Board of Cerevel Therapeutics LLC; Dr. Ted Love, President and CEO of Global Blood Therapeutics; and Dr. Jeremy Levin, CEO of Ovid Therapeutics Inc. The discussion drew upon the speakers’ own experiences to provide clear steps for how to improve diversity and inclusion within life science companies and clinical trials ensuring that minority communities can access the healthcare and innovations companies create.

Watch the full discussion here.

Stay informed on the latest news and trends on the economic and health benefits of this important industry by visiting the new CABiotech.org

For more information about California’s biotechnology and life science industry, contact California Biotechnology Foundation Executive Director Patty Cooper at (916)764-2434 or patty.cooper@cabiotech.org.