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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Can we prevent the next Covid-19? 

Has the CDC become too cautious? And how many sensors should be worn to bed? 

We cover all that and more this week on “The Readout LOUD,” STAT’s biotech podcast. First, our colleague Helen Branswell joins us to discuss where the world went wrong with Covid-19 and how to prepare for the next pandemic. Next, STAT D.C. correspondent Nicholas Florko calls in to talk about the public health experts who believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been too sluggish and conservative in recent months. Finally, our colleague Nick St. Fleur joins to recap this week's STAT Health Tech Summit, which featured some boisterous CEOs, ambitious startups, and promising technologies.

Listen here. 

Limiting horseshoe crab harvests 

A federal judge has put the kibosh on Charles River Laboratories’ harvesting of horseshoe crabs from a wildlife refuge. That's a problem for the company because it uses the crustaceans’ blood to develop certain reagents. The lawsuit, filed by an environmental group, claims that collecting horseshoe crabs threatens migratory birds that feed on their eggs. 

The Defenders of Wildlife contends that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has “turned a blind eye” to Charles River’s activities — and that the decades-old endotoxin test derived from crab blood could be replaced by newer synthetic tests. 

Read more.

Emergent execs to testify over vaccine fiasco

Emergent BioSolutions was once a relatively obscure Maryland biotech — that is before it ruined millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine. Now, two of its top executives will testify on Capitol Hill next week, as legislators examine the company's manufacturing failures, the New York Times reports. The inquiry will determine whether the company used its contacts in the Trump administration to obtain coronavirus vaccine contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Lawmakers will also likely have questions about executives who  profited after the company’s stock spiked due to its vaccine contracts: Emergent founder Fuad El-Hibri, for instance, cashed in shares and options worth over $42 million last year. 

“They all made millions in stock transactions while they seem to be hiding stuff from the public,” Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat of South Carolina who chairs the subcommittee, told CNN Wednesday morning. 

A possible cause for vaccine blood clots

A German researcher thinks he knows what has caused some people to develop blood clots after receiving coronavirus vaccines. University of Greifswald hematologist Andreas Greinacher believes the reaction is linked to EDTA, a preservative found in the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The AstraZeneca vaccine contains more than 1,000 proteins that have been derived from human proteins — and the EDTA helps them stay in the bloodstream. There, they bind to platelet factor 3, which forms structures that kickstart antibody production. Greinacher’s hypothesis is that when the vaccine elicits an inflammatory response, it triggers an ancient immune defense mechanism that runs amok and causes clotting and bleeding. It’s like “awakening a sleeping dragon,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

More reads

  • Brazil’s Supreme Court rules that patent extension rules are unconstitutional. (STAT)
  • Pfizer and Moderna vaccines produce robust immune responses in women who are pregnant or nursing. (Boston Globe

Thanks for reading! More next week,


Friday, May 14, 2021


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