InnovationRx: Stretching Monkeypox Vaccine Doses; Plus, Omicron Subvariant Boosters

innovationrx:-stretching-monkeypox-vaccine-doses;-plus,-omicron-subvariant-boosters

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As the U.S. continues to face a rise in monkeypox cases (nearly 9,500 cases as of Tuesday), the FDA has OKed a new dosing strategy to stretch vaccine supplies. Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine was originally approved by the FDA for a full dose to be administered subcutaneously, meaning underneath the skin into the fat of the arm. On Tuesday, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization that allows health workers to inject one-fifth of a normal dose intradermally, meaning into the skin.

But experts tell Forbes that this new method poses challenges for the vaccine rollout: there is limited data supporting the strategy and most healthcare workers have experience giving intradermal injections. This method could also produce more side effects, like swelling and itching at the injection site, compared to the standard dose, according to Dr. Jay Varma, a professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. Though Varma also said he thinks the new approach is the best one “given the vaccine supply shortage.”


Facebook Gave Nebraska Cops A Teen’s DMs So They Could Prosecute Her For Having An Abortion

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A Nebraska teenager is facing criminal charges alleging she aborted a fetus in violation of state law, after authorities obtained her Facebook messages using a search warrant. This marks one of the first instances of a person’s Facebook activity being used to incriminate her in a state where abortion access is restricted — a scenario that has remained largely hypothetical in the weeks following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Read more here.


Deals Of The Week

Funding Extension: Biofourmis, a startup developing digital therapeutics and artificial intelligence to remotely monitor patients, has raised a $20 million Series D extension led by Intel Capital. SCAN group president and CEO Sachin Jain and former Tenet Healthcare chairman and CEO Trevor Fetter are also joining the company’s board. Biofourmis was valued at $1.3 billion following its $300 million funding round in April.

Sickle Cell: Pfizer is acquiring Global Blood Therapeutics in a deal valued at $5.4 billion, as the pharma giant acquires its sickle cell disease portfolio. Pfizer estimates its approved treatment Oxbryta and pipeline of drugs in development “could achieve combined worldwide peak sales of more than $3 billion,” according to a press release.

Health Outcomes: HCA Healthcare is partnering with Johnson & Johnson on a pilot program to address early-stage lung cancer detection among the Black community. The two companies will also work together on health equity training for nurses and research using digital technology to improve outcomes for heart disease.

Diabetes: Abbott is partnering with WeightWatchers on a program for patients with diabetes that pairs Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor with WeightWatchers’ diabetes management app that focuses on nutrition and meal planning.

Alzheimer’s Collaboration: Drug discovery firm Cerevance announced Tuesday that it has signed a multi-year contract with Merck to identify novel drug targets for Alzheimer’s disease. The deal calls for Cerevance to get $25 million upfront, and if all goes well with drug development, could be worth up to $1.1 billion in milestone payments in addition to royalties.


Noteworthy

A new study suggests over half of infectious diseases could be worsened by climate change, as warming temperatures, droughts, wildfires and other weather phenomena that displace people make it easier for pathogens to spread.

Cigna reported nearly $1.6 billion in quarterly profits due to continued growth in health plan membership and the company’s Evernorth health services business.

Parents in Georgia can claim embryos with detectable heartbeats as dependents on their state tax returns following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Medicare advantage company Alignment Healthcare’s losses are narrowing as its enrollment rises, per latest earnings report.

Meet Danielle Carnival, the scientist coordinating President Joe Biden’s new cancer moonshot.

Coronavirus Updates

Pfizer and BioNTech have completed clinical trials for vaccines that include specific protection against the original omicron variant. Now the two companies have begun testing for vaccines specific to the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, which are the fastest spreading variants of Covid-19 in the United States. Manufacturing for the new vaccines has already begun, and could be rolled out as early as October pending regulatory approvals. That’s good news as we approach the fall and winter, which have been the times of year where Covid spread is at its highest. Competitor Moderna has also begun testing an omicron specific booster, but the FDA has not yet authorized any Omicron-specific vaccines.


Newly Discovered Monkey Antibodies Could Hold Key To Vaccine Against All Coronavirus Strains

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Researchers have identified monkey antibodies that are effective against numerous Covid variants and other coronaviruses, a discovery that could help scientists develop better vaccines and prepare for future pandemics as pharma firms race to update their shots.

Read more here.

Other Coronavirus News

New research presented earlier this month suggests that the loss of smell during a Covid infection is associated with long-term cognitive impairment.

A recently published study finds that wind instruments, especially brass instruments like trumpets and trombones, are most likely to spread respiratory particles and therefore diseases like Covid.

Americans’ outlook of the Covid-19 pandemic has become increasingly pessimistic in recent months, a new Gallup poll found, with a growing share believing things are getting worse instead of better.

A very small retrospective study found that among patients hospitalized for Covid-19, those who admitted to being chronic cannabis users were less likely to be admitted to the ICU, but the authors of the study urged caution and more definitive research before drawing conclusions.

Across Forbes

The Cloud 100

How Much Has Trump Made From Mar-A-Lago, His Palm Beach Estate Under Siege?

Google Calls On Apple To Fix Hated Green Bubbles On iMessage

What Else We are Reading

As billionaires race to fund anti-aging projects, a much-discussed trial goes overlooked (STAT)

Covid Sewage Surveillance Labs Join the Hunt for Monkeypox (Kaiser Health News)

Long-COVID treatments: why the world is still waiting (Nature)

Life Sciences, Forbes – Healthcare

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