April 14, 2021
AABB SmartBrief
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Top Story
More than 192 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the US as of Tuesday, with 75.3 million people now fully vaccinated, the CDC reports. After US health agencies recommended that use of a vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson be paused after six reported incidents of blood clotting after vaccination, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said the country has "more than enough supply" of vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna to maintain the current pace of vaccination.
Full Story: Reuters (4/13),  Reuters (4/13) 
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You're more than a hero. You're a superhero.
This year, blood bankers have risen to meet enormous challenges. In the face of a strained blood supply, support of convalescent plasma therapy, and countless logistical hurdles, you persevered in the name of patient care. Thank you for your unfailing commitment to this life-saving work. Happy Medical Lab Professionals Week 2021!
Science & Health
The NIH has been sponsoring research on an effective, easy-to-use antiviral drug for COVID-19, but developing antivirals requires identifying molecular vulnerabilities in a virus, screening hundreds of thousands of compounds that target the vulnerabilities, testing promising compounds in laboratories and then testing the best candidates -- if any -- in animals before starting clinical trials. Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics; Atea Pharmaceuticals; and Pfizer have reached the clinical trial phase.
Full Story: STAT (tiered subscription model) (4/9),  MyNorthwest (Seattle) (4/13) 
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Emerging Trends
Moderna on Tuesday announced that, based on results from a six-month follow-up of participants in a Phase 3 trial, its COVID-19 vaccine continues to provide strong protection against the virus six months after the second dose was given, with efficacy against all types of COVID-19 cases at more than 90% and more than 95% against severe COVID-19. The company is also working on versions of the vaccine that target the variant B.1.351.
Full Story: Reuters (4/13) 
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Industry News & Practice
Eli Lilly and Co. announced it revised a contract with the US government for bamlanivimab, the drugmaker's COVID-19 antibody drug, due to concerns about its efficacy against new coronavirus variants. The modified agreement states the drug will now be sold in combination with etesevimab and cancels the remaining orders of bamlanivimab scheduled for delivery by the end of March.
Full Story: Reuters (4/12) 
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Antios Therapeutics, a startup working on a cure for hepatitis B, raised $96 million in its most recent funding round. With the new capital the company will continue its research, and CEO Greg Mayes said the company will be prepared for an initial public offering.
Full Story: Endpoints News (free registration) (4/13) 
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Government & Regulatory
The Senate Finance Committee is set to hold a confirmation hearing Thursday for Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the Biden administration's nominee for CMS administrator. Brooks-LaSure previously worked in the HHS Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, was on staff at the House Ways and Committee and was at the CMS' Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.
Full Story: ThinkAdvisor (free registration) (4/12) 
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The White House is running public service announcements on "The Deadliest Catch" and partnering with Country Music Television and NASCAR to reach Americans who are skeptical about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. About 30% of Republicans and white evangelical Christians say they won't get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Kaiser Health News poll.
Full Story: CNBC (4/12) 
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Emergency use authorization was granted to Thermo Fisher Scientific's high-throughput version of its Amplitude Solution with the TaqPath COVID-19 High-Throughput Combo Kit. The kit may help labs flag SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Full Story: 360Dx (tiered subscription model) (4/13) 
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Association News
The 10th edition of Standards for Cellular Therapy Services (CT Standards) is now available for purchase in both electronic and printed formats. The 10th edition will take effect July 1 and includes several changes and additions, including standards to address bacterial contamination risk, data breaches, vulnerable donor populations, novel infectious diseases and data reporting. A print version of the CT Standards and Guidance bundle is also available for pre-order. Additional information is available in the AABB Store.
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