New signs of hope emerged last week when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use of remdesivir as a treatment for patients severely ill with COVID-19. Dr. Mark Denison of Vanderbilt University is one of the researchers who discovered remdesivir’s potential. According to a report in The New York Times, “The story of remdesivir’s rescue and transformation testifies to the powerful role played by federal funding, which allowed scientists laboring in obscurity to pursue basic research without obvious financial benefits. This research depends almost entirely on government grants.”

The race to the cure continued this week as Pfizer and BioNTech started human trials for the first of four experimental COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. If the tests are successful, the vaccine could be ready for emergency use as early as September.

Below, we highlight COVID-19 updates and developments from our members and others in Tennessee. Visit our COVID-19 page for additional resources and supply needs.

Biodegradable Gloves for Safe Reopening
As the economy begins to re-open, Peak Serum would like to offer a helping hand in both COVID-19 protection and sustainability efforts of the local community. They are offering all LST members free samples and 45% off their newest 2.5 mil biodegradable gloves. Designed with organic materials, these gloves biodegrade in one to five years in comparison to 100+ for other gloves. Contact Peak Serum’s Southeast Director of Sales Travis Jenkins at 615-294-0529 or email him at [email protected] for more information.

Vanderbilt Establishes New COVID-19 Fund
Vanderbilt University has established a new COVID-19 Research and Innovation Fund to support research and innovation projects to fight COVID-19. According to the announcement, donations will support cross-disciplinary collaborations that address the medical, societal and interpersonal effects of the pandemic. Many projects are already ongoing and exemplify the diversity of disciplines and outcomes the new fund is designed to support, including:

  • Vaccine formulation to enhance resistance to COVID-19
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard health care workers on the front lines
  • Expert guidance for individuals and families ranging from managing stress, eating healthy and educating children at home while social distancing
  • “Smart” face masks to better identify and track COVID-19 infections
  • Virtual self-screening tools to help individuals assess their symptoms and seek appropriate health care
  • Geospatial solutions to track the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate future outbreaks
Other important updates and resources:
  • FDA tightened oversight of antibody tests this week, requiring commercial manufacturers to submit an emergency use authorization (EUA) with validation data to continue marketing the tests.
  • Last week, the NIH announced a $1.5 billion initiative to speed breakthroughs in diagnostic tests for the virus.
  • “The science has never been better,” according to BIO president and CEO Jim Greenwood in an interview with The Hill [Ed note: we agree].
  • LaunchTN and the Nasvhille Entrepreneur Center announced a new a virtual pitch competition for entrepreneurs building solutions addressing COVID-19’s effect on individuals, communities and economies. The deadline to submit an idea or pitch has been extended to Friday!
  • ICYMI: Tennessee State Senator Steve Dickerson called for a new Marshall Plan aimed at pharmaceutical manufacturing and production.
  • Tennesseans helping Tennesseans—read about TN Tech alums who now work at Knoxville-based Integrity Laboratories to develop COVID-19 diagnostic tests.