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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Covid-19 vaccine acceptance dwindles

Fewer Americans are willing to take a Covid-19 as soon as it’s available, a survey from STAT and The Harris Poll finds. The decline is particularly marked among Black Americans — and suggests there's growing concern that the regulatory approval process for the vaccine has been politicized, STAT’s Ed Silverman writes.

Overall, 58% of respondents said they’d immediately get a vaccine, down from 69% in mid-August. The disparity is even larger when it comes to race: Only 43% of Black individuals would take the vaccine, down from 65% two months ago. 

“There’s a historical level of distrust,” said Rob Jekielek, managing director of the Harris Poll. “And when you think about stalling the spread of Covid-19, these findings indicate that we face an increasingly bigger problem.” 

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Biotech funding: Get it while it's hot

The standard time between, say, a Series A round and a Series B is about 19 months. In the past year, however, that window has shrank considerably — with many biotech companies cramming multiple venture financings into a single year. And some have even managed to go public less than 18 months after launch, STAT’s Kate Sheridan writes.

Why the trend? A record-breaking amount of money is available. 

“I had a mentor who used to say, ‘When they’re serving appetizers, eat them,’” one venture capitalist told STAT. “What he meant by that was that if people are trying to give you money, or even if you think you can raise money at nice prices, go for it.” 

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Trump shifts from vaccines to drugs

President Trump has been telling his supporters that they’d soon have access to a Covid-19 “cure” for free — and that the experimental Regeneron drug he took for his own coronavirus infection made him feel “like Superman.”

The rhetoric marks a significant shift for Trump, STAT’s Lev Facher writes: For months, the president had instead campaigned on the premise that a vaccine might be available before Election Day. Now, Trump’s championing drugs, instead. 

“Clearly, there’s been a shift in what the president talks about,” one health policy expert told STAT. “That may just be a factor of the personal experience, although clearly it’s also related to the reality of the vaccine. I don’t know which of those it is.” 

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The two months in 1980 that shaped biotech

It’s the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the biotech revolution — sort of. There were five events, spaced over a two-month span in 1980, that has shaped how this sector changed immeasurably, biomedical ethicist Henry T. Greely writes for STAT. 

The first milestone was a Nobel prize awarded for work in recombinant DNA, followed by Genentech’s IPO. What followed were advances in innovation and patent law — and a game-changing patent: “Process for producing biologically functioning molecular chimera,” which marked a holy grail of sorts for recombining genes. Though these events didn’t generate splashy headlines at the time, their importance still resonates today, Greely writes. 

Read more.

More reads

  • Hey, biopharma: JPM isn't the be-all, end-all for deal-making, Sanofi exec says. (FierceBiotech)
  • Pfizer says it will not have a coronavirus vaccine until late November, allaying fears of a rush for approval before Election Day. (Washington Post)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Monday, October 19, 2020


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