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Public Policy Newsletter Article

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, Biocom & CA Biotech Foundation Partner on COVID Vaccine Briefing

  • 2020-09-24T14:30:00.000+0000
  • Author: Jimmy Jackson

Biocom recently joined forces with Assemblyman Kevin Mullin and the California Biotechnology Foundation to do a virtual legislative briefing on efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The event, held on September 15, was moderated by Assemblyman Mullin, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Biotechnology, and was well attended by both legislators and staff.

Biocom President & CEO Joe Panetta gave a comprehensive overview of the basics of vaccines and how they work, how current knowledge of viruses was leveraged in early work on a potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, and current progress on some of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Kate Broderick, PhD, Senior Vice President, Research and Development, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, discussed her company’s vaccine candidate, which was one of the first COVID-19 vaccine candidates to enter Phase 3 FDA clinical trials. Innovio’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, Janssen Therapeutics discussed Janssen/Johnson & Johnson’s efforts not only to develop vaccine candidates for COVID-19 but also how the company is 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 of 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 for 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 is 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.

Biocom thanks our panelists who took time out of their very busy schedules, our moderator and convener, Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, and the policy makers and aides who joined us for this very informative session.