Day: May 22, 2020

$1.2 Billion From U.S. to Drugmaker to Pursue Coronavirus Vaccine

The deal with AstraZeneca is the fourth and by far the largest vaccine research agreement that the department has disclosed. The money will pay for a Phase 3 clinical trial of a potential vaccine in the United States this summer with about 30,000 volunteers.

The H.H.S. statement said the agency and AstraZeneca “are collaborating to make available at least 300 million doses,” and projected that the first doses could be available as early as October.

There is no proven treatment or vaccine against the virus, and infectious-disease experts also warn that many vaccine candidates take years to perfect. Some fail or cause such severe side effects that human trials are halted.

But even before any are approved, governments and other organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are spending millions of dollars to prepare for the manufacturing of several potential vaccines to make them broadly available as soon as

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Prominent Scientists Denounce End to Coronavirus Grant

A group of 77 Nobel laureates has asked for an investigation into the cancellation of a federal grant to EcoHealth Alliance, a group that researches bat coronaviruses in China.

The pre-eminent scientists characterized the explanation for the decision by the National Institutes of Health as “preposterous.” The agency said the investigation into the sources of pandemics did not fit “with program goals and agency priorities.”

The Nobel recipients said the grant was canceled “just a few days after President Trump responded to a question from a reporter who erroneously claimed that the grant awarded millions of dollars to investigators in Wuhan.” President Trump said the grant would be ended immediately.

The grant had been given to EcoHealth Alliance, an organization with headquarters in New York that studies the potential for spillover of animal viruses to humans around the globe. The group collaborated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which

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These Labs Rushed to Test for Coronavirus. They Had Few Takers.

When a stay-at-home order in March all but closed the revered labs of the gene-editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna, her team at the University of California, Berkeley dropped everything and started testing for the coronavirus.

They expected their institute to be inundated with samples since it was offering the service for free, with support from philanthropies. But there were few takers.

Instead, the scientists learned, many local hospitals and doctors’ offices continued sending samples to national laboratory companies — like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics — even though, early on, patients had to wait a week or more for results. The bureaucratic hurdles of quickly switching to a new lab were just too high.

“It’s still amazing to me, like, how can that be the case, that there is not a more systematic way to address a central need?” said Fyodor Urnov, the scientist who oversaw the transformation of the Innovative Genomics

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Trump’s Vaccine Chief Has Vast Ties to Drug Industry, Posing Possible Conflicts

The chief scientist brought on to lead the Trump administration’s vaccine efforts has spent the last several days trying to disentangle pieces of his stock portfolio and his intricate ties to big pharmaceutical interests, as critics point to the potential for significant conflicts of interest.

The scientist, Moncef Slaoui, is a venture capitalist and a former longtime executive at GlaxoSmithKline. Most recently, he sat on the board of Moderna, a Cambridge, Mass., biotechnology firm with a $30 billion valuation that is pursuing a coronavirus vaccine. He resigned when President Trump named him last Thursday to the new post as chief adviser for Operation Warp Speed, the federal drive for coronavirus vaccines and treatments.

Just days into his job, the extent of Dr. Slaoui’s financial interests in drug companies has begun to emerge: The value of his stock holdings in Moderna jumped nearly $2.4 million, to $12.4 million when the company

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