Welcome to Dispensed, Business Insider’s weekly healthcare newsletter. At the risk of jinxing it, it’s starting to feel a bit summery in Brooklyn. I have to say, masks when it’s cold out has been nice. I’m dreading 90-degree weather with a mask right about now.
That said, I’ll still be sporting mine as New York stays under a stay-at-home order until mid-June. I hope, dear readers, you’re finding ways to make the most of our prolonged quarantine.
For those in states opening up, how has it been? Have you gotten a haircut? Dined at a restaurant? I’m curious what the world looks like out of lockdown – I’m at email@example.com if you would like to send along your observations.
Best-case scenario, we get a vaccine by the fall – but likely not in mass production
Getting an effective vaccine would be ideal to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
- While there are more than 100 research efforts underway, Andrew Dunn rounded up the three programs aiming to be available by the fall, vaccines developed by Moderna, Oxford, and Pfizer.
- Experts shared with Yeji Lee and Andrew three ways to speed up development, including exposing people to the virus. That, of course, comes with pros and cons.
Getting an effective vaccine is one thing. Getting enough for everyone who needs it will be another.
French drugmaker Sanofi got into hot water this week when its CEO Paul Hudson said that the US would get priority for the vaccine it’s developing because the government had supported the research efforts. The company backed down after drawing ire from the French government.
Andrew this week spoke with National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins in a wide-ranging interview.
They discussed why – even though it’ll be expensive, and probably a waste of money – the US government will spend billions to manufacture several coronavirus vaccines. Collins told Andrew that he’s expecting to have a vaccine available by the fall, though it likely won’t be widely available then.
You can read the full interview here:
NIH Director Francis Collins shares his best-case scenario for a coronavirus vaccine: We could have a shot by fall but mass-producing it will be ‘a heck of a stretch’ by the end of the year.
The healthcare industry is forever changed by the coronavirus pandemic
This week, the Business Insider team put out a massive project, featuring interviews with more than 200 CEOs about the impact of the pandemic and what’s next.
You can read all of their thoughts on how this will change their businesses, their industries, and the world here:
Not yet a BI Prime subscriber? Use my link here to get 20% off your BI Prime subscription.
The House of Representatives is voting on the HEROES Act today
Raise your hand if the biggest viewing event of your Friday night is… the House vote of the HEROES Act slated for 5:30 ET.
Should the HEROES Act pass (which is a big if, because the Republican-controlled Senate isn’t likely to pass it), it would provide funding to states to support teachers, firefighters, and police officers.
In the meantime, check out Kimberly’s round-up of who received the most money from the initial $12 billion stimulus package the federal government gave to hospitals.
You can read the full story of what’s in the bill here:
Democrats just unveiled a new coronavirus stimulus bill that includes $500 billion to prevent teacher and firefighter layoffs, a Postal Service rescue, and $1,200 checks for Americans
We’re starting to get a better picture of the limitations of coronavirus testing
When it comes to testing for the novel coronavirus, so far we’ve got tests that check whether a person is actively infected with the virus, as well as whether they’ve had the virus, known as antibody tests.
But as Andrew reports, researchers at Adaptive Biotechnologies are looking into whether a test looking at T cells, a crucial part of the body’s immune system, could be another way of seeing whether someone has been infected with the virus, supplementing antibody tests.
In the latest of what seems like a million setbacks to a comprehensive coronavirus testing and tracking strategy, one of the rapid testing systems – the one, in fact, that the White House is using – often returns results that a person is virus-free when they’re actually infected.
Testing to see who’s actively infected with the coronavirus is one piece of the testing puzzle. Antibody testing to see who might have had the novel coronavirus is ramping up. Abbott said it’s planning to pump out millions of tests a month, Blake Dodge reports.
But, as Blake reports, it’ll be difficult to rely on antibody testing alone as a way to tell who has had the virus.
You can read about why that is here:
Some back-of-the-envelope math reveals the risk in relying on even the best antibody tests to tell us who’s had the coronavirus
Investors poured billions into healthcare startups in the first three months of 2020
In the first quarter of 2020, healthcare startups raised $14.6 billion, up from the $13.5 billion the companies raised in the same period of 2019.
We’ve got the list of the most valued healthcare startups at the moment, some of whom received sizeable chunks of capital as the world was starting to reel.
The pandemic seems to be a moment for young startups to accelerate some of the plans they were working on.
- Andrew wrote about Caption Health, a Khosla Ventures-backed startup helmed by former 23andMe president Andy Page that won approval to use its ultrasound software to help frontline workers.
- And Blake wrote this week about Microsoft-backed Innovactor’s plans to change how doctors and hospitals communicate as the pandemic makes hospitals reevaluate how patient data are shared.
- Elsewhere, Dr. Atul Gawande, the professor/writer/surgeon who’s been CEO of Haven, the joint health venture from Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan, is stepping down from the role to devote more time to confront the pandemic.
Blake has the list of the biggest funding rounds through the first quarter. I’ll certainly be curious to see if healthcare investments are resilient amid the financial fallout of the pandemic, or if funding will be much lower in the second quarter.
You can read the full story here:
Investors just poured $14.6 billion into startups working to transform healthcare. These are the 10 companies that pulled in the most cash.
How – and when – to reopen the office
This week, I spent some time thinking about a topic likely at the top of every employer’s mind: How to get employees safely back to the office.
In the absence of a vaccine, the office will look quite different than it did before. And to be sure, opening back up presents its own concerns.
So we turned to some experts.
- On Tuesday, I spoke on a webinar with three healthcare execs who shared how they’re planning to reopen offices and keep workers safe after the coronavirus outbreak.
- Premise Health, which operates onsite health clinics for employers, shared with me a 27-page playbook for how to bring employees back to the office. I found it really helpful, even just to understand what the office we return to looks like.
- I spoke with Collective Health, which on Wednesday debuted a new tool to help employers get their employees back to the office safely.
- Amazon has a $1 billion plan to test every employee working in its warehouses. The safety improvements might make the retail and tech giant even more competitive, according to Morgan Stanley.
My colleagues Jeremy Berke and Weng Cheong went even deeper, laying out all the tools and equipment leaders will need to bring their employees back safely. Masks, temperature checks, and new office layouts will all be important.
You can read the full story here:
A realist’s guide to the tools and equipment leaders will need to bring employees back into offices safely and quickly