BIO Annual Meeting Goes Digital with Focus on COVID-19


The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)'s annual meeting brings together some of the brightest minds across the industry to showcase advancements in developing therapeutics that will benefit people battling a myriad of diseases. This year’s event, which kicks off June 8, will have a different look as an entirely digital conference.

The decision to go digital was no surprise given the impact of the novel coronavirus that has swept across the globe over the past several months, infecting more than 6.6 million people across the globe. As such, COVID-19 and the race to develop treatments and vaccines against the disease will certainly be one of the key topics discussed during the event. BIO kicks off on Monday with an hour-long session discussing the industry’s response to the global pandemic. This online session will feature outgoing BIO head Jim Greenwood, new BIO president and chief executive officer Michelle McMurry-Heath and BIO Chairman Jeremy Levin.

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On Tuesday, a three-part plenary session featuring key industry leaders will hone in on the rapid research and development projects associated with the novel coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and key member of the government’s response team for the virus, will take part in a fireside chat that will likely run the gamut of everything known about COVID-19, the likelihood of achieving a vaccine for the disease by the end of the year and more. Since becoming the scientific face of the government’s response to the disease, Fauci has provided numerous candid comments about the ongoing and changing understandings of the virus, some of the early responses to the virus regarding treatment options and more. That 30-minute fireside chat is part of a plenary session called “A Way Forward: Winning the War on COVID through Vaccines.”

In addition to the fireside chat, the plenary session will also include a look at different vaccine platforms and partnerships that have been created in response to the disease. The session will look at important issues that need to be addressed in developing a vaccine, as well as challenges to manufacture and distribute enough of the medication to vaccinate billions of people around the world. This panel, which includes companies like Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will share their thoughts on how collaborations can bring life-saving vaccines to the world.

The third part to the plenary session will continue the discussion about the challenges of developing a vaccine and distributing the medication across the globe. Panel members for this session will include Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel; Seth Berkeley, the head of The GAVI Alliance; Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation); Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline vaccines expert who was recently named the head of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s ambitious vaccine development program; and more.

BIO runs from June 8 to June 12. Programing throughout the week will focus on the most pressing industry topics including COVID-19, digital health, business development, oncology, gene editing, and the latest therapeutic advancements in biotech.

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