What We're Reading: Pharma Companies Fund Antibiotic Start-Ups; COVID-19 Can Be Airborne; WHO Launches Pandemic Review


Twenty pharmaceutical companies created a $1 billion fund to aid financially strained antibiotic development start-ups; the World Health Organization (WHO) concedes that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can become airborne; the WHO will launch an independent review into the global pandemic response after the United States formally withdrew from the organization.

Pharma Companies Offer Financial Aid to Start-Ups

Twenty pharmaceutical companies announced the creation of a $1 billion fund to bolster financially strapped biotech start-ups, The New York Times reports. The start-ups are working to develop new antibiotics to combat the increasing number of drug-resistant infections around the globe. The AMR Action Fund will be financed by Roche, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson and was created in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). Short-term lifelines will be offered to 2 dozen small antibiotic companies that have been struggling to gain investments. The number of antibiotics approved by the FDA for systemic use has largely decreased, from 61 approved between 1980 and 2009 to only 15 in the last decade.

COVID-19 Can Be Airborne, WHO Says

The WHO recently announced that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can become airborne in indoor settings, but some experts felt the acknowledgement should have come sooner, according to The New York Times. The conclusion comes after over 200 scientists signed a letter urging the organization to revise its previous recommendations on the disease and its transmission. In an updated scientific brief, the organization noted the virus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, and it also emphasized that the virus may be spread by asymptomatic individuals.

WHO Launches Independent Review Into Global Pandemic Response

The WHO will launch an independent review of the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, STAT News reports. Helen Clarke, former prime minister of New Zealand, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Liberian president, will lead the review while countries can propose potential members for the independent panel. An interim report is expected to be published in November. The announcement comes after President Donald Trump formally notified the WHO that the United States will withdraw from the organization, criticizing its response to the pandemic.

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