Not All Heroes Wear Capes—Some Wear Lab Coats

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Power of Ideas

Not All Heroes Wear Capes—Some Wear Lab Coats

Author(s)
Jim Greenwood
Jim Greenwood
(President and CEO, Biotechnology Innovation Organization)

As the number of COVID-19 cases exceeds 1 million globally, commerce, tourism, and travel have nearly ceased as people hunker down in their homes to avoid spreading the virus to their families, neighbors, and colleagues. 

While some can work by phone, email, and video conference, many others—law enforcement, emergency personnel, doctors and nurses, to name a few—must go to work every day, putting themselves and their families at risk for the greater public good. The same is true for others on the frontlines of this public health emergency: the men and women of America’s biopharmaceutical industry. 

We all must do our part to protect our colleagues and slow the transmission of this deadly virus. 

At the same time, however, the world is looking to these dedicated scientists and researchers to develop the new diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines that are urgently needed to eradicate this disease. They may wear lab coats instead of capes, but they are heroes all the same. 

This is a critical time for those who work in America’s life sciences. For the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), it has never been more important to support our incredible industry, and there are a number of ways we’re doing just that.

For starters, we are ensuring our industry has the resources, tools, and best practices it needs to move forward as safely as possible. Our COVID-19 resource page features the latest information on business continuity from government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and other helpful organizations. Up-to-date company news allows users to understand the work happening in labs across the country to stop the coronavirus. And key data, messages, and commentary from industry leaders help shine a spotlight on the incredible science and investments that will help us win this fight. 

Next, we launched a Coronavirus Hub, an online platform designed to connect companies and organizations that have relevant supplies and resources with those in need, including health-care providers and biotech researchers. This first-of-its-kind platform enables users to post requests for urgently needed items, as well as to post the availability of supplies and capacity. 

As a community, we have a responsibility to answer this global call for action. And in an industry where we are so often competitors, now we must be collaborators for the common good.

The portal can make connections in real time and is searchable by keywords. We are working with important stakeholders—including Healthcare Ready and Cardinal Health – to help make sure that requests for resources are coordinated with key state and federal health leaders and delivered to where they need to go.

As a community, we have a responsibility to answer this global call for action. And in an industry where we are so often competitors, now we must be collaborators for the common good.

And finally, BIO is working to foster collaboration across the industry and with key government partners. In recent weeks we facilitated a virtual summit to help industry leaders, government officials, and other vital partners collaborate and ultimately accelerate the development of new medicines to combat the coronavirus. 

No challenge is too big for this resilient industry, and our virtual summit proved just that. More than 45 companies—larger pharmaceutical companies as well as smaller biotechs—along with government officials and stakeholders within the health-care sector shared resources, expertise, and lessons learned from past pandemics. It was an invaluable effort—and one step in our broader plans to combat this deadly pathogen.

Overseeing all of BIO’s efforts is George Scangos, president and CEO of Vir Biotechnology. With years of leadership from within both small and large biopharmaceutical companies, Scangos brings a tremendous amount of expertise and experience to this fight. It’s going to take the right science and the right partnerships to finish the job—and Scangos will help guide our industry through. 

We remain steadfast in our commitment to research and develop new medicines to prevent, treat, and cure disease in all forms, not just COVID-19. It’s all-hands-on-deck to tackle the new coronavirus, but we haven’t forgotten about the 100 million Americans with chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, or the 1 million Americans diagnosed with cancer each year. In fact, the way the coronavirus disproportionately affects people with underlying health conditions is a clear reminder of the important need to continue investing in treatments for other diseases, too.

In these trying times, the public is counting on America’s brilliant and dedicated researchers to discover new treatments that will stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and treat those who have been affected. On behalf of the men and women we represent, both the biopharmaceutical industry and BIO accept the challenge, and we won’t rest until this global health threat is eradicated.

Published April 14, 2020