Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last Monday that COVID-19 restrictions were to be extended by a further four weeks in England, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone the BIA’s Garden Party. We hope to hold the event in person in September and we will share details once the new arrangements with the venue have been confirmed.
I was delighted to read on Friday night that many colleagues and BIA members were rightly recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021. The headlines were dominated by Kate Bingham, former Chair of the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce (VTF) and Professor Sarah Gilbert of Oxford University who both became Dames.
Following a major campaign by the BIA to secure fresh funding for the Biomedical Catalyst, which many of you have supported, great news last week as the Government announced a £30m refill for a new round this year. Read our press release here and you can read more about the BIA’s decade-long campaign on the BMC, here.
On 23 March 2021, the UK Government published its response to its call for views on artificial intelligence and intellectual property. This was an important consultation looking at a range of issues, but most significantly for the life sciences sector, it asked if inventions derived from artificial intelligence (AI) machines should be afforded the same protections as human inventions. The BIA was amongst those who took part in the consultation.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues worldwide, I chaired an emergency Board meeting of the International Council of Biotech Associations (ICBA) on what more our sector can do to help the global vaccination effort.
The Government has used the Queen’s Speech to highlight its ambition to lead the world in life sciences as part of its plans for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic on the back of the successful vaccination programme. Improving health, creating jobs and levelling up were other key themes set out as the foundations for the Government’s policy agenda.
Jabbed! a TV documentary telling the inside story of the UK Vaccines Taskforce is on Channel 4 this evening at 10pm. Tune in to see interviews with familiar faces including Kate Bingham and Ian McCubbin. I hope the documentary puts front and centre the early work done by the BIA COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturing Taskforce as part of the UK’s great vaccine story.
Clinical trials are an essential part of getting new treatments from lab to patient but during the COVID-19 pandemic, trials for treatments outside of COVID-19 had been heavily disrupted. However, in light of all this immediate disruption there have been claims that the swift action taken to produce a vaccine and the adoption of technology could set a positive precedent for the future of clinical trial research.
The Government is seeking a Chair for its newly announced Antiviral Taskforce on COVID-19. Details of the role, along with other exciting opportunities in our sector, are on the sector jobs section of the BIA website.
The new Taskforce’s ambition is to find one or two treatments for COVID-19 this year, either in a capsule or tablet form, that can be taken at home at the moment of first diagnosis. Today’s story in The Telegraph (£) gives a glimpse at how a pill could be developed in the timeframe.