As the threat of the delta variant continues to mount, the Biden administration has released plans to extend its vaccine mandate to U.S. companies. Affecting over 80 million U.S. workers, we expect there to be significant conversation on this topic in the coming months. This week, we also dig into Pfizer’s impressive team of “variant hunters” who work around the clock to identify new COVID-19 variants and prepare for future treatment options. In addition, we ponder the implications of the billions of dollars on the table with biotech special purpose acquisition companies that have no identified targets, explore new artificial intelligence technologies related to mapping of the brain’s networks and acknowledge the additional $2.7 billion that has been earmarked for domestic vaccine production.
Each week we highlight five things you need to know in the life sciences industry. Here’s the latest.
1. Biden administration extends vaccine mandate to U.S. companies
Following the Biden administration’s July announcement of vaccination requirements for federal government employees, the administration has announced vaccination requirements for all U.S. employers with 100 or more employees. Alternatively, unvaccinated employees may produce a negative COVID-19 test on a weekly basis. This requirement will affect over 80 million U.S. workers.
2. Pfizer’s “variant hunters” stay ahead of COVID-19
Pfizer’s COVID-19 variant researchers, the self-proclaimed “variant hunters,” work around the clock to identify the next vaccine-resistant variant of the COVID-19 virus. Unable to timely transport live variant samples from across the globe to its Pearl River, N.Y., facility, the team grows the variants using information from a database called GISAID. While one team member sleeps, the other works through the night on data visualizations for the team to review first thing in the morning. This article explores the passions and lives of these researchers since the start of the pandemic.
3. Top biotech SPACs with $5 billion to spend, but no target
The SPAC market may be cooling off as capital raised through traditional initial public offerings has exceeded funding raised through SPAC IPOs by nearly 2 to 1. That does not mean that SPAC opportunities are dwindling as approximately $5 billion has been raised by biotech SPACs yet to find a target company. This article highlights those SPACs still in search of a target.
4. Google and Mayo Clinic partner to build new AI algorithm focused on mapping brain networks
Google and the Mayo Clinic have partnered to map the structure of brain networks using AI. Neurostimulation can be used to treat issues such as chronic pain, depression, overactive bladder and more by sending electrical pulses to the areas of the brain linked to the condition. This treatment is only as good as the map is connecting the brain networks to the related area. The partners believe that they can perform deeper analysis using AI and more thoroughly identify connections than traditional methods.
5. White House announces $2.7 billion to boost vaccine production
The White House announced a $2.7 billion boost to domestic vaccine production which will begin to be allocated in the coming weeks. The money will be used to support manufacturing of booster shots as well as supporting international vaccine shortages. Middle market contract manufacturers may benefit.