Posts tagged with "Pfizer"

Trans Rights illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Montana’s Anti-Trans Sports Bill

Montana Sends Anti-Trans Sports Bill To Gov. Gianforte 

Today, the Montana Senate passed House Bill 112, an anti-LGBTQ bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level consistent with their gender identity. The bill now heads to Governor Greg Gianforte’s desk for signature or veto. Montana was the first legislature to take up anti-transgender legislation in the 2021 session, considering it in January in a rushed House process and before any serious legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Montana has been at the tip of the spear in the legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation, a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are so far 192 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 93 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like HB 112, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.  Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact.  Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason Montana needs a ban on transgender participation in sports.  Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in reaction:

“Montana legislators have sadly led the national effort to advance these discriminatory bills that put fear over facts, science, and medicine. Montana legislators are putting Governor Gianforte in a position to jeopardize the wellbeing of the state and put transgender kids in danger in favor of [this] anti-equality political talking point. While no Montana legislator has provided examples of what they claim to be legislating against, they continue to justify prioritizing this manufactured issue over addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. Transgender kids are kids, and they deserve better than this targeted discrimination. Ultimately, this is a bad deal for all Montanans, who would also be subject to the catastrophic consequences that other states have faced after passing anti-transgender legislation.”

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • Earlier this month, more than 55 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous, anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Basketball illustration by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

North Carolina Introduces Anti-Trans Sports Ban

On Fifth Anniversary of HB 2 ‘Bathroom Bill’ Passage, North Carolina Introduces Anti-Trans Sports Ban.

North Carolina puts forward another anti-transgender bill, again invoking the rhetoric of protecting women and girls from transgender people.

Late Monday, the North Carolina House introduced House Bill 358, an anti-transgender bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports (including college sports) consistent with their gender identity. The timing of this bill introduction could not have been more ironic, as it came on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Governor Pat McCrory signing the now-notorious House Bill 2, which mandated discrimination against transgender people in bathrooms.

Like HB2, the “Save Women’s Sports” bills rely on false narratives based in fear, rather than facts or science. Like HB2, these sports bans are fear mongering and an attempt to score political points by singling out already marginalized people for additional discrimination.

“In a moment of sad irony, North Carolina legislators have shown they clearly did not learn their lesson from the HB 2 ‘Bathroom Bill’ fight that threatened the state to the tune of billions in revenue, taxpayer-funded litigation, and a tarnished reputation–in addition to the personal reputational harm Gov. Pat McCrory suffered that cost him his job,” said Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Kate Oakley. “By introducing an anti-transgender sports ban bill, they are playing with fire once again, and engaging in a fight that is doomed to the same fate. This legislation is simply the latest iteration in a failed series of attempts to thwart equality for LGBTQ people. Two conservative governors have either threatened to veto or vetoed anti-transgender sports ban legislation out of the same fears that were realized in North Carolina five years ago. Let North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’ fight be a lesson to all states and governors considering anti-transgender legislation this session. North Carolina does not want to go down this road again.”

The legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation has been fast and furious, led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states – quite like the bathroom bill push in 2016. There are 174 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country so far this year. Of those, 95 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like HB 358, ban transgender girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. As was the case in the HB 2 fight, legislators across the country invoke hypothetical scenarios of harm but have failed to provide actual examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact.  Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason North Carolina or any other state needs a ban on transgender participation in sports.

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • Earlier this month, more than 55 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell joined companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups-representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations-released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The economy and reputation of North Carolina suffered very real harm caused by HB2. Here’s just a snapshot of the overwhelming outcry at the time of the bill’s passage:

  • Over 200 major business leaders, from Apple to Zola, signed an open letter to NC Gov. Pat McCrory opposing HB2, because discrimination is bad for business. The letter was first announced on March 29, 2016, when it was hand-delivered to Pat McCrory by HRC President Chad Griffin, Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro and transgender advocate Candis Cox.
  • On April 5, 2016, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman announced that the company will seek an alternative location for its new “global operations center.” PayPal’s investment was expected to bring 400 skilled jobs to North Carolina, with an annual payroll impact of more than $20 million. In its statement, Schulman said, “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.”
  • On April 8, 2016 Bruce Springsteen cancelled his concert in North Carolina over HB2, saying, “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry-which is happening as I write-is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”
  • On May 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice determined North Carolina’s discriminatory HB 2 violates federal civil rights law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. At a press conference on May 9, Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke directly to the transgender community, saying “We see you. We stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”
  • On July 21, 2016, the NBA decided to stand up to North Carolina lawmakers who refused to repeal HB2 by pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC. Despite the NBA’s repeated warnings that it would have to consider moving the high-profile game out of the state if the anti-LGBTQ law was not repealed, the state’s General Assembly shamefully adjourned after 100 days of inaction.
  • In North Carolina, basketball is king-but that didn’t stop the NCAA from standing up for their LGBTQ players, employees and fans by vowing to move tournament events from the state because of HB2. The NCAA announced that they would move all 2016-2017 championship games out of the state on September 12, 2016.
  • On Election Day, NC Governor Pat McCrory, who signed HB2 into law, was defeated at the ballot box — the only incumbent governor from either party to lose on Election Day. Polling by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed that HB2 was the most cited issue leading to McCrory’s defeat in those who voted against McCrory.
  • In February, the North Carolina Sports Association sent a letter to lawmakers warning of a loss of NCAA championship games through 2022 if HB2 is not immediately repealed. In the letter, the sports association warned that the NCAA decision could cost the state at least another half a billion dollars in economic activity when other sports organizations follow the NCAA’s lead in moving events out of the state. In November 2016, Forbes estimated that the state had already lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to HB2.
  • In March, the Greensboro Coliseum Complex revealed it had lost $23.5 million in revenue from various championships and conventions because of HB2.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people  are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

MIT Study Shows the Power of Accurate Information to Increase Vaccination Rates

Despite the availability of multiple safe vaccines, vaccine hesitancy may present a challenge to successful control of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, vaccine hesitancy may be caused not simply by fears about the safety or efficacy of the vaccine, but instead by the inaccurate belief that many of your peers or social cohort are not being vaccinated.

A recent working paper entitled “Surfacing Norms to Increase Vaccine Acceptance” written by two MIT Sloan Professors, Dean Eckles and Sinan Aral, of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, with Sloan PhD student Alex Mohering, post doctoral researchers Kiran Garimella and Amin Rahimian, and Avi Collis of the University of Texas, set out to study the relative importance of the beliefs that people hold about the acceptance of vaccines by others.

After studying the responses of over 300,000 people in 23 countries, the study showed that accurate information about descriptive norms can substantially increase intentions to accept a vaccine for COVID-19, reducing the fraction of people who are “unsure” or negative about accepting a vaccine by five percent. In other words, clear and accurate information about the behavior of others can influence behavior in a positive way.

“While public health officials and the media have been emphasizing the potential negative impact of vaccine hesitancy, our study found that emphasizing the overwhelming vaccine acceptance expressed by most people is a better way to get those who are unsure to accept COVID-19 vaccines,” says Sinan Aral.

These results suggest that public health communications should present information about the widespread and growing intentions to accept COVID-19 vaccines—and not overly emphasize the fear that the vaccine will not be accepted among a large portion of the population.

“Humans are innately sensitive to the behaviors of others. This pandemic is tragic enough without adding to the suffering by overestimating and over-communicating the fear that some will not accept the vaccine. The best way forward, as is often the case, is the presentation of clear, accurate and timely information.” says Dean Eckles.

Pfizer coronavirus vaccination article illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Pfizer × BioNTech near historic vaccine

By Althea Champion

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Monday that their COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective. If approved, it could potentially be available to the public by early December, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The results came out of Pfizer’s Phase 3 trial, which involved 40,000 individuals. Of those participating, 94 contracted COVID-19. These results, like much of 2020, are historic. Vaccines have never been developed on such a fast-moving timeline. The last vaccine that was developed in such considerable haste was for mumps, and it took four years.

Pfizer says that they plan to ask the Federal Drug Administration for emergency use by the end of the month. The vaccine will require two doses administered three weeks apart. The company hopes to have enough doses for 25 million people by the end of the year, and 650 million people in 2021.

In the case that the vaccine supply is limited, the C.D.C. will first vaccinate healthcare personnel, essential workers, people who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, as well as those 65 years and older.

An expedited timeline does not mean drug companies are cutting corners. Fauci, like many of his colleagues in Washington, assures that manufacturers will stick to a process of vaccine development that ensures the safety of patients. The FDA will still make the final call.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, in Pfizer’s press release. “The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19.”

However, a few questions remain unanswered.

“Historically, important scientific announcements about vaccines are made through peer-reviewed medical research papers that have undergone extensive scrutiny about study design, results and assumptions,” writes Arthur Allen in the Opinion section of the NYT. “Not through company press releases.”

According to Allen, it is unclear from the press release how long Pfizer’s vaccine will keep patients protected, if it is safe for high-risk populations like the elderly, or if rare side effects can arise in patients who are vaccinated. He notes that the Novavax and Sanofi Pasteur vaccines may be safer for older patients.

Novavax and Sanofi Pasteur are subunit vaccines, like the hepatitis B vaccine. They deliver only the essential antigens of the virus to the immune system, so it learns how to attack it. Because it is only a part, or a subunit, of the virus, fewer side effects are likely.

Pfizer’s is a nucleic acid vaccine that uses RNA. According to the Washington Post, “this type of vaccine contains a strip of genetic material within a fat bubble” that enters the cell. Once inside, “the RNA generates a protein found on the surface of the virus.” It can then familiarize itself with the virus and learn how to fight it.

Moderna’s vaccine is also an RNA vaccine in Phase 3 trials. Pfizer’s success bodes very well for Moderna, according to a statement Fauci made to CNN.

Furthermore, because the vaccine must be stored in extremely low temperatures—on dry ice at negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit according to the Washington Post—its roll-out becomes complicated. If left out in the sun, or just at room temperature, or even at just below freezing, the mRNA self-destructs and the vaccine becomes useless.

Shortly after Pfizer’s announcement, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation, warned of the “dark winter” ahead, and urged Americans, regardless of party affiliation, to wear a mask until the vaccine is available.

The head of the C.D.C. warned this fall, that “for the foreseeable future, a mask remains the most potent weapon against the virus,” he said from the podium. “Today’s news does not change that urgent reality.”

Hiccup in COVID-19 Vaccine Development

By Althea Champion

In a statement from AstraZeneca, reported by STAT News, the biopharmaceutical company reported a halt in their global research trial. The company, which is working with the University of Oxford and is one of the few waist-deep in the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccination, reported that the halt is a “routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials.”

The company is in Phase 3 of their clinical trial in the U.S., as well as Brazil and South Africa, according to the New York Times, and in Phase 2/3 in England and India. AstraZeneca began the third phase of its clinical trial not much longer than a week ago, on Aug. 31.

Phase 3 efficacy trials involve thousands of volunteers, some of which are administered the vaccine in question, and others the placebo.

AstraZeneca and its most close competitors, Moderna and Pfizer, which have each been in phase 3 of their clinical trials since July 27, are backed by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, a targeted allocation of resources meant to hasten the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The halt of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine—AZD1222—is the first made public by its drug maker, and will allow a safety review to take place. 

“A volunteer in the U.K. trial [of AZD1222] had been found to have transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and is often sparked by viral infections,” reported the New York Times. “However, the timing of this diagnosis, and whether it was directly linked to AstraZeneca’s vaccine, is unclear.”

The vaccine was first developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, according to nih.gov, and was then “licensed to AstraZeneca for further development.” Oxford-Astrazeneca began the third phase of its clinical trial not much longer than a week ago, on Aug. 31

The company stressed in its statement that the safety of their participants is a priority.

“We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline,” said the company in their statement. “We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”