Dear Research Advocate, On (but mostly off) Capitol Hill : Neither the House nor Senate is expected to reconvene until after Labor Day. As things stand, it may be late September before a final COVID-19 emergency spending package takes shape. The longer the delay on that front, the greater the chances that a continuing resolution (CR) will be attached, flat-funding the government until after (potentially long after) the November elections. Sound the Alarm : If this no-action update sounds all-too-familiar, that’s because it is. The push and pull of differing funding priorities and election-year politics are fogging the lens such that the most important consideration – the crying need for...
Much like drugs, vaccine candidates that seem promising during laboratory research are assessed and validated based on their performance in clinical trials. In the U.S., making it to this step requires a trial sponsor to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the FDA for review. 6 This application most commonly highlights technical data on immunogenicity — the ability to elicit a targeted immune response —, the mechanism of action from animal testing, and importantly, the resources needed for scaling up production. 6 In a recent vaccine-development-focused installment of the popular American Public Health Association and National Academy of Medicine’s webinar series, COVID-...
Two earlier posts in this series explored what is a virus and what is a vaccine as well as the types of vaccines under development. As with the type of vaccine, the type of virus is as important when developing a vaccine. You might ask: Why do we need a new flu shot every year? Why isn’t there a vaccine for HIV? How do these issues translate to the new COVID-19 vaccine? Excellent questions all, that are answered by understanding the differences between viruses. Influenza, the virus which causes the flu, has a genome made of eight independent segments. The eight segments in one strain of the flu can easily mix with the segments in other strains of the flu, creating what is called a “shift”...
Dear Research Advocate, On Capitol Hill : Senate Republicans have a new legislative proposal for COVID-19 emergency supplemental spending which includes provisions such as extended unemployment benefits and emergency funding for USPS, but no supplemental funding to restore COVID-19-eroded research dollars. Speaking up now is essential if there is to be an emergency spending bill that fully fights back COVID-19’s attack on the nation’s economy and health security. Reach out to your members of Congress to encourage them to include at least $26 billion in funding to restart lifesaving research supported by our health and science agencies. Here are two ways you can act right away: send this...
The pandemic continues to reconfigure our society and our individual lives. Our R&D ecosystem is simultaneously at the center of the COVID-19 response and placed at risk by it. What is certain during this profoundly uncertain period in our nation’s history is this: inaction breeds tragedy. Inaction on Capitol Hill : Negotiations over desperately needed emergency spending legislation and FY21 appropriations are in a holding pattern. In a troubling sign, reports today surfaced that federal agencies have been told to prepare for flat funding via a CR through December. Let’s face it: federal leaders are waiting to see who blinks first, even as desperation mounts and priorities like medical...
The COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly impacting the lives of millions and leaving a path of social and economic challenges that affect how we live, learn, and work. These unprecedented times show that innovation is more important now than ever. At the forefront of the COVID-19 response are pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and healthcare companies in California developing vaccines, diagnostics, and personal protective equipment (PPE). How is COVID affecting Biocom's members? The pandemic has disrupted the operations of many our members and forced them to make difficult decisions to pause ongoing trials and reconsider timelines for data readouts, regulatory reviews, and product launches...
Dear Research Advocate, Let’s cut to the chase : There is so much at stake right now as Congressional leadership and the Administration negotiate the next COVID-19 supplemental, timing included. It’s a ‘now’ situation for Americans and those who represent them; it’s a ‘now’ situation for advocates, too. Research!America sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to include at least $26 billion in supplemental research funding in the legislation. Now is the time to meet the moment — don’t let disappointment or fatigue set in — your advocacy has worked in the past and it can work again! Reach out now and encourage your Members of Congress to weigh in with negotiators to achieve a...
As scientists work towards a COVID-19 vaccine, they are faced with the decision of which type of vaccine to choose. Here, we review the different types of vaccines, how they work, some examples, and current COVID-19 trials in each category. For additional information on the science behind vaccine approaches for covid-19, take a look at Research!America’s COVID-19: By the Science infographic. Live-attenuated vaccines Live-attenuated vaccines use a weakened form of the germ (bacteria or virus) that causes the disease. Scientists weaken the germ by altering its genetic code to prevent the germ from rapidly replicating in human cells. This weakened form can no longer cause the disease, but the...
What is a Virus? Viruses are tiny parasites that can cause disease. 1 While there are many types of viruses, they all contain genetic material, known as the viral genome, and a surrounding shell made of proteins and lipids. The SARS-CoV2 virus, responsible for COVID-19, is about 125 nm wide, 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. 2 SARS-CoV2 is an RNA virus, meaning that the internal genetic material is single-stranded RNA. This RNA is packaged inside of the virus with the “N” protein while the “S”, “E”, and “M” proteins are components in the outer lipid shell. The “S” protein is the one that sticks out from the virus giving the appearance of a crown. The Latin word for crown...
The challenges of life during the COVID-19 pandemic are greatly magnified for those with chronic illnesses, who may have less access to needed care and support. This is especially true when those health conditions make them more susceptible to contracting or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. People with substance use disorders or who are struggling to recover fall squarely in this category and research is urgently needed on the intersections of COVID-19 and substance use and related health issues. Such research could not only benefit some of the most vulnerable groups, but valuably inform efforts to address the pandemic more generally. People with substance use disorders are potentially...

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