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InnovationRx: Biden’s Pharma Patent Fight; Plus Universal Covid Vaccines

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The Biden administration announced its support for waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday, a reversal of the longstanding U.S. stance as the fiercest defender of intellectual property rights on the international stage. For the time being the move is mostly symbolic, as there are still likely months of negotiations ahead, but it signals a sharp divide from past political posturing. Pharmaceutical trade groups decried the move, saying it would curtail innovation while doing little to accomplish its intended goal of boosting Covid-19 vaccine production. The path forward is unclear, but there is sure to be frenetic lobbying in the weeks ahead. 

Additionally, patents and intellectual property rights are only a small piece of the vaccine manufacturing puzzle. Global health experts argue that a much more significant investment in lower income countries is required to speed up equitable access, including major funding for technology transfer, manufacturing equipment and trained personnel. The tremendous need comes as the future direction of one of the world’s largest public health philanthropic organizations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, could change in the wake of the announcement this week that the couple is getting divorced

Oura’s Sleep-Tracking Ring Raises $100 Million To Move Further Into Personalized Health

Finland-founded wearables startup Oura has raised an $100 million Series C round at an $800 million, as the smart-ring manufacturer eyes the crossover between the consumer and regulated health space. The smart-ring, approximately the size of a wedding band, measures heart rate and body temperature and is used by professional athletes to monitor overall health and recovery. During the Covid-19, researchers have been studying whether the data collected by Oura and other wearable devices can help predict the onset of illness before symptoms appear. Read more here.


HSBC Life announces new global partnership with digital health engagement platform dacadoo, as life insurers eye wellness.  

With more than 500,000 sign-ups, President Biden’s special Obamacare enrollment period is already a boon to health insurers

Little Otter, a mental health services startup focused on children, launches with $4.2 million investment. 

Coronavirus Updates

Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Americans not to prematurely declare victory against the Covid-19 pandemic. Cases are down, but vaccination numbers still need to increase before the pandemic can truly be behind us. A quarter of Americans still say that they are unwilling to get a Covid-19 vaccine, but research is showing that they could be persuaded. And speaking of vaccines — today, Canada approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines in children ages 12-15, a week before the U.S. will reportedly make a similar announcement. 

The Future of Universal Covid-19 Vaccines

Some small biotech companies are working on universal Covid vaccines — vaccines that could be used to prevent all variants of Covid-19, or even future pandemic-causing coronaviruses. Read more here.

Other Coronavirus News

New research from South Korea shows that a single dose of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines are more than 86% effective at preventing Covid-19. 

That being said, if you miss the second shot of your vaccine you should still try to get your follow-up dose which will make you even more protected, especially when it comes to variants.  

A federal judge overturned the CDC’s nationwide eviction moratorium today, and the Biden administration is now appealing the ruling. 

UPS is the latest corporate giant to donate money to Covid aid in India; it’s in the company of FedEx, Google and Amazon.

Across Forbes

Blue Origin Begins Auction For Seat On First Space Tourism Flight

Inside Jessica Alba’s Long And Turbulent Road To Taking The Honest Company Public

50 Innovative Technology Leaders Transforming Business For A Radically Different World

What Else We are Reading

A doctor trained nurse practitioners to do colonoscopies. Critics say his research exploited Black patients (STAT)

Collective Health Valued at $1.5 Billion After Funding Infusion (Bloomberg)

Covid Set Back Working Latin American Women Over a Decade (Bloomberg)

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