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What We’re Reading: China Hostile Over COVID-19 Testing; Biologics for Infectious Diseases; Congressional Report Blasts Biogen, FDA


The Chinese government warns of backlash for countries requiring COVID-19 testing of travelers from China; monoclonal antibody drugs show some promise against infectious diseases, but costs need to be lower; the role of FDA and Biogen in approving Alzheimer drug Aduhelm is detailed in a scathing Congressional committee report.

China Threatens Retaliation Against Mandated COVID-19 Testing for Travelers

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, Tuesday referenced unspecified “countermeasures” that might be used against countries now requiring COVID-19 testing from passengers travelling from China, according to the Associated Press. Due to a lack of information presented by China on the status of its COVID-19 outbreak, countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, and others are requiring COVID-19 testing for passengers traveling from China prior to getting on a plane. These countries have fears around the emergence of novel variants and concerns over China’s sudden cessation of strict COVID-19 measures in December.

Researchers Eye New Biologics for Infectious Diseases if Costs Fall

Monoclonal antibodies have proven to be expensive yet mighty for over 30 years, and now there is an opportunity to use these drugs against infectious diseases if finances and motivation align, reported The Washington Post. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the usefulness of biologics for infectious disease treatment before a vaccine is available. While barriers such as high costs and the ever-changing nature of emerging disease variants are still present, scientists are researching candidates against malaria, Zika, or the hemorrhagic illness Lassa. They hope to create a small-dose, high-potency monoclonal treatment to assist with both reducing costs and easing administration burdens.

Congressional Committee Report Criticizes Alzheimer Drug Approval

A recent Congressional investigation called into question the FDA’s approval of the Alzheimer disease drug (aducanumab) Aduhelm, as well as its manufacturer, Biogen, due to concerns about irregularities in the approval process and the extremely high cost of the drug, reported The New York Times. Biogen was found to have set aside a several billion-dollar marketing budget to tackle anticipated resistance on the value of the drug for the price upon its release. Approval of the drug in June 2021 was met with some health systems not offering it to patients because of its high price, dubious advantages, and risks of brain swelling and bleeding.

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