A story in USA Today this morning asks whether a coronavirus vaccine could repair the pharma industry’s reputation despite drug price increases. Dr. Jeremy M. Levin, an iconic biotech thought-leader who first introduced immuno oncology to the world 10 years ago, is quoted:
“The pandemic ‘has driven the public eye onto what the biotech industry does, which is change the dynamic of a disease,’ said Jeremy Levin, chairman of BIO and author of the recently published book Biotechnology in the Time of COVID-19: Commentaries from the Front Line. “In the noise that came from the bad actors, we basically lost sight of the essence of what the biotech is all about, which is patients and innovation.”
Here are some additional thoughts from Dr. Levin’s on developing a vaccine and the road forward:
What can you (and the biotech industry) tell the American people that they haven’t already heard? Unless we are able to get a handle on COVID-19, we as a society as a whole are at great risk. There has never been a greater risk from a transmissible disease to our nation, and the world at large.
There is incredible pressure to expedite a COVID-19 vaccine, even if it hasn’t been tested in the way it needs to be tested.
What are the risks/rewards? The risks of rushing a vaccine are considerable, and the FDA will be acutely aware of this when making an approval. I expect there will be extraordinary diligence from the FDA, as well as from each company producing a vaccine. Despite this, the risk of not developing a vaccine are nearly unimaginable.
How long is the typical timeline for vaccine development? A typical timeline for vaccine development is at least a decade, but many variables go into this. This article in the NY Times is a useful explainer.
Dr. Levin is available for interviews on COVID-19 and other biotech topics. He is currently CEO and Chairman of OVID Therapeutics, Inc., and Chair of the global Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). In 2018 Dr. Levin was named “one of the most influential figures in biopharmaceutical industry” by FierceBiotech, and one of the top three biotechnology CEOs in 2020 by The Healthcare Technology Report. See him interviewed HERE on CNBC.