Highlights from our COVID-19 Webinar, and how the life science industry is supporting distance learning

Industry News

Highlights from our COVID-19 Webinar, and how the life science industry is supporting distance learning

September 2020

Legislative Webinar Centers on COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin, Biocom and the California Biotechnology Foundation cohosted a legislative webinar on September 15h to discuss novel COVID-19 vaccines that will help eventually prevent the spread of this deadly virus and get our economy and lives back on track. The webinar, the second in a series of COVID-19 related sessions, was attended by more than 40 legislators and staff and provided an overview from leading experts working to develop COVID-19 vaccines, including the critical role collaboration among all parties plays in their research, development, mass distribution and uptake.

Some of the highlights included:

  • Joe Panetta, CEO of Biocom, discussed some of the most promising COVID-19 vaccines in development including genetic vaccines, viral vector, protein based and repurposed vaccines – many of those being developed in California. He said worldwide, 43 vaccines are in clinical trials and another 93 are in pre-clinical trials. Panetta emphasized that there is no intent to compromise or cut corners in any way and that biopharma companies throughout the world are working tirelessly to ensure the safety and efficacy of the products they’re developing. This includes collaboration with regulators of the FDA to ensure that there’s a rigorous review process to get these products approved and into the hands of physicians and health practitioners, and ultimately, to treat patients.
  • Kate Broderick, PhD, Senior Vice President, Research and Development at Inovio Pharmaceuticals discussed her company’s vaccine candidate, which was one of the first COVID-19 vaccine candidates to enter Phase 1 FDA clinical trials. Inovio’s vaccine candidate can be transported and stored at room temperature, a huge plus when talking about distributing very large quantities of vaccines in a short period of time.
  • Richard Nettles, M.D., VP Medical Affairs at Janssen Therapeutics discussed Janssen/Johnson & Johnson’s efforts to develop vaccine candidates for COVID-19 while also devoting substantial resources to develop treatment candidates as well. Johnson & Johnson has been a leader from the early days of the pandemic in trying to educate the public about the process and challenges of developing a vaccine candidate with its web series, “The Road to a Vaccine.”
  • Julian Ritchey, Head of US Vaccines Public Affairs & Patient Advocacy at Sanofi discussed not only the company’s work on COVID-19, but also raised a concern by an increasing number of medical professionals that, because of societal behavioral changes that came about as a result of the pandemic (such as limiting all but the most essential trips), immunization rates for preventable diseases are down significantly this year. Ritchey emphasized that these are conditions we can take care of now, and it is incumbent upon all of us to do so as much as possible to avoid putting other unnecessary strains on the healthcare system.

For more information contact Laura Fitzgerald in Assemblymember Mullin’s office at [email protected] or Patty Cooper with the California Biotechnology Foundation at [email protected].

California Life Sciences Industry Supports Students During COVID-19 Pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, parents, teachers and students are facing new challenges in their distance learning environment and exploring creative ways to bring education into the home. Life science companies and their partners recognize this challenge. They are providing students with online learning opportunities that aim to help the entire education community stay scientifically engaged. CBF recently developed a online learning fact sheet that highlights a snapshot of California-based programs and free resources that teachers, schools, districts, parents and students can access to expand STEM curriculum during this time of at-home learning.

For more information about these programs or how to bring them to schools in your legislative district, please contact Patty Cooper at [email protected]. or visit our Distance Learning Resources on the CBF Website.