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Trump coronavirus vaccine chief has had ‘no contact’ with Biden transition team

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Operation Warp Speed chief advisor Dr. Moncef Slaoui has had “no contact” with the Biden administration regarding the transition process and the vaccine distribution process.

Since President-elect Joe Biden won the election, President Donald Trump has refused to concede and his campaign has challenged the results of the election in court.

Despite his lack of communication with the incoming Biden administration, Slaoui said he “can’t see” the transition impacting the vaccine distribution process.

“We are focused on making sure that the vaccines are made available as quickly as possible and distributed as efficiently as possible, regardless of the political context that surrounds us. Of course, we would hope that the transition happens quietly and smoothly,” Slaoui told ABC. “We are concerned with anything that could derail the process. As it stands now, I can’t see that happening, but hopefully it doesn’t happen.”

When asked whether he would be open to speaking with the Biden administration, Slaoui said he would “be happy” to share information already made public, but nothing confidential.

“I have been informed that I should not be saying anything that is confidential to anybody, including anybody that’s not a part of the administration, and I’ll act in accordance with what the legal requirements are,” Slaoui told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.

CNBC has reached out to the White House for comment.

The General Services Administration still has not officially ascertained a president-elect two weeks after Biden won the election, which is blocking his incoming administration from getting access to key resources and information. This has “definite impacts,” Biden chief of staff Ron Klain told ABC, “and those impacts escalate every day.”

“The President-elect and the Vice President-elect are not getting intelligence briefings they’re entitled to. Our transition isn’t getting access to agency officials to help develop our plans, and there’s a lot of focus on that vaccine roll out plan that’s going to be critical in the early days of a Biden presidency – we have no access to that,” Klain said.

Slaoui added that Operation Warp Speed has been “isolated from the administration, from the political environment and the political context,” and “therefore, all decisions are made [and] the train is running, whether [it’s] one administration or the other doesn’t make a difference.”

This comes after Pfizer and BioNTech applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their coronavirus vaccine on Friday. The approval process is expected to take a few weeks, with an advisory committee meeting to review the vaccine tentatively scheduled for early December.

Moderna also plans to apply for an emergency use authorization, as its preliminary phase three trial data showed its vaccine is more than 94% effective in preventing Covid-19, the company announced Monday.

Once an emergency use authorization for a coronavirus vaccine is approved, doses of it will be dispersed across the country within 24 hours, Slaoui told Meet the Press on Sunday.

“Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state would have told us they want the vaccine doses,” Slaoui said. “We cannot move the vaccine doses prior to the emergency use authorization.”

Each state department of health will determine where the vaccine will be held, and with the help of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each state will also decide who is vaccinated first, according to Slaoui.

It is likely that the vaccines will be given on a “priority basis,” Slaoui said, and “that’s very likely to be, maybe, [those that are] health care workers, first-line workers, individuals of very high risk, elderly.”

“I would expect, maybe on day two after approval, on the 11th or on the 12th of December, hopefully, the first people will be immunized across the United States, across all states, in the areas that the state Department of Health have told us to deliver the vaccine,” Slaoui told CNN on Sunday.



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Cramer unveils list of ‘return to normalcy’ stocks on vaccine optimism

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Sportsdigita’s software, used by major sports teams, sees growth during pandemic

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Angelina Lawton

Source: John Wagner

Sportsdigita, an all-in-one cloud-based presentation software company owned by former National Hockey League executive Angelina Lawton, sees opportunity amid the pandemic as sports teams conduct business online instead of in person.

The company, which counts the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Yankees among its clients, is raising $10 million to $25 million in Series A funding. It may use some of the money it rasies to acquire smaller firms that have been hurt financially by Covid-19.

Sportsdigita is a subscription-based software company that’s seen growth since Covid-19 halted in-person meetings. It offers customized presentations and integrates video conferencing and presentation software. It competes with other services, like Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Teams, both of which are included in an Office subscription.

But Sportsdigita considers itself “PowerPoint on steroids” because its Digideck software offers customized presentations for sports teams’ sales and marketing groups, which use them in pitches with corporate partners. Lawton said the Sportsdigita’s Digideck platform’s professional services, which come with subscriptions, help it stand out against competitors.

“That is a big differentiator between us and our competitors,” Lawton said. “We actually do the heavy lifting with the creative and design services. We’ll do the presentations and hand them over to teams once they are done, versus our competitors that will sell their product and then it will be up to the company or the professional team to put their packages together.” Subscriptions to Sportsdigita range in price from $20,000 to $500,000.

Lawton said the coronavirus pandemic sped up Sportsdigita’s development cycle, too.

“Prior to this, we were relying on getting on airplanes and face-to-face meetings,” Lawton explained, noting the product wasn’t scheduled to launch until 2021 or 2022 but was prioritized due to the pandemic.

Lawton said the Series A funding will better position Sportsdigita to gain market share among other companies that offer sales enablement software. MarketsandMarkets said in 2019 that sales enablement will be a $2.6 billion market by 2024.

Sportsdigita took a $3 million seed round in 2017 led by venture capital company Peak6 Investments. One of its investors is well-known Minnesota sports journalist Sid Hartman, who died on Oct. 18. Lawton said the company has 40 employees and wants to grow to 60 in 2021.

“In a baseball game, we’re in the fourth inning,” Lawton explained, describing Sportsdigita’s future. “These next innings will be critical for our success as far as how we pivot and grow.”


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CDC should warn people the side effects from shots won’t be ‘walk in the park’

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A volunteer is injected with a vaccine as he participates in a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination study at the Research Centers of America, in Hollywood, Florida, September 24, 2020.

Marco Bello | Reuters

Public health officials and drugmakers must be transparent about the side effects people may experience after getting their first shot of a coronavirus vaccine, doctors urged during a meeting Monday with CDC advisors as states prepare to distribute doses as early as next month.

Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the American Medical Association noted that both Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines require two doses at varying intervals. As a practicing physician, she said she worries whether her patients will come back for a second dose because of the potentially unpleasant side effects they may experience after the first shot.

“We really need to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park,” Fryhofer said during a virtual meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an outside group of medical experts that advise the CDC. She is also a liaison to the committee. “They are going to know they had a vaccine. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they’ve got to come back for that second dose.”

Participants in Moderna and Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trials told CNBC in September that they were experiencing high fever, body aches, bad headaches, daylong exhaustion and other symptoms after receiving the shots. While the symptoms were uncomfortable, and at times intense, the participants said they often went away after a day, sometimes sooner, and that it was better than getting Covid-19.

Both companies acknowledged that their vaccines could induce side effects that are similar to symptoms associated with mild Covid-19, such as muscle pain, chills and headache.

One North Carolina woman in the Moderna study who is in her 50s said she didn’t experience a fever but suffered a bad migraine that left her drained for a day and unable to focus. She said she woke up the next day feeling better after taking Excedrin, but added that Moderna may need to tell people to take a day off after a second dose.

“If this proves to work, people are going to have to toughen up,” she said. “The first dose is no big deal. And then the second dose will definitely put you down for the day for sure … You will need to take a day off after the second dose.”

During the meeting on Monday, Patsy Stinchfield, a Children’s Minnesota nurse practitioner, said officials and drugmakers could try talking about the side effects in a more positive way. She said they could use language such as “response” instead of “adverse reaction.”

“These are immune responses,” said Stinchfield, a past voting member of the committee. “And so if you feel something after vaccination, you should expect to feel that. When you do, it’s normal to have some arm soreness or fatigue, some body aches and maybe even a fever. It sounds like in some of these trials, maybe even having to stay home from work.”

“You hear some people in the trials that are disappointed that they didn’t have any of those things, feeling they must have gotten a placebo” she added.

The committee meeting comes three days after Pfizer and its partner BioNTech applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their coronavirus vaccine.

The FDA process is expected to take a few weeks, and an advisory committee meeting to review the vaccine has been scheduled for early December. Some Americans could get their first dose of the vaccine in about a month.

ACIP is expected to call an emergency meeting to make specific recommendations on distribution once the FDA authorizes a vaccine.

Federal agencies are already sending vaccination plans around to staff. Five agencies have started telling employees they could receive Pfizer or Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in as little as eight weeks, a person with first-hand knowledge of those plans told CNBC on Friday.


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