Good morning, everyone, and nice to see you again after we took an extended break. We hope the weekend respite was relaxing and invigorating. Certainly, it was interesting to watch the much-ballyhooed space tourism industry get a lift, of sorts. How many of you have booked a flight? As for us, we are coping with more earthly matters, such as our to-do list. No doubt, you can relate. So here are a few tidbits to get you going. Hope all goes well today, and do keep in touch. …
Pfizer (PFE) is expected to brief top U.S. government health officials Monday about the need for a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot after an unusual public spat between the company and federal officials over whether a third shot will be necessary, The Washington Post reports. Pfizer and BioNTech (BNTX) plan to seek regulatory approval for a booster within weeks because they anticipate people would need a third dose six to 12 months after receiving the two-shot regimen. But top U.S. health officials have not decided whether boosters will be necessary.
Pfizer denied any suggestion former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd was responsible for the country securing earlier access to its Covid-19 vaccines, ABC reports. The government announced last week Pfizer had agreed to move up delivery of doses scheduled to arrive later this year. Rudd wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to inform him that he had talked with the global head of Pfizer and personally lobbied him to accelerate the deliveries. Pfizer maintained all negotiations were conducted exclusively with the federal government.
The Food and Drug Administration issuing full approval for two Covid-19 vaccines might not be the game-changer some have argued, STAT says. Increasingly, some leading academics and physicians have pushed back on the popular narrative that the FDA is needlessly delaying full approvals and spurring vaccine hesitancy by doing so. While full approvals might encourage some Americans to finally get vaccinated, they argue, it’s more important for the agency to make clear eventual approvals are motivated by science and not public pressure.
AstraZeneca (AZN) chief executive officer Pascal Soirot has bought a $6 million house in Mosman, Australia, a harbor-side suburb of Sydney, and the home includes a wine cellar, home cinema, and gymnasium, The Australian Financial Review writes. Soriot, a French-Australian dual citizen, moved to Australia in 1990 with his family, and has two children and a grandchild living in the country. Soriot recently sold a three-bedroom cottage in Cammeray for about $2 million.
GAVI, which administers the COVAX program for the World Health Organization, signed advanced purchase agreements with two Chinese vaccine makers — Sinovac and Sinopharm — for 110 million Covid-19 doses. The agreements also call for the potential to purchase up to another 440 million doses through the first half of 2022. GAVI added that the COVAX program, which is targeting dozens of low- and middle-income countries, is on track to deliver more than 2 billion doses by early 2022.
India submitted a proposal to the U.S., granting legal indemnity as demanded by Moderna (MRNA) for shipping its Covid-19 vaccine, albeit with certain conditions, The Economic Times reports. The proposal will be taken up by the Moderna board of directors and once approved, will allow immediate import by India of about 7 million doses of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine. Last week, India’s drug controller approved the import of the vaccine, but the drug maker demanded legal indemnity in the country before making its vaccine available.
President Biden’s executive order to promote business competition lays out a series of steps to lower prices for prescription drugs, including taking legal action against companies that cooperate to keep generic medicines off the market and allowing states to import drugs from Canada, The Wall Street Journal writes. Most of the ideas have been urged in the past, primarily by Democrats but also by the Trump administration. Growing bipartisan support for lowering drug prices could give the current push a greater likelihood of success.