Moderna Inc., a nearly 10-year-old Massachusetts-based biotech company, is suddenly the talk of the scientific community after they announced this week “positive” indications from their early work on a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
Not all of it is complimentary.
The company has been embraced by a Trump administration desperate for good news in the fight against COVID-19.
In April, Moderna received $483 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the government agency charged with overseeing the rapid production of a vaccine.
And last week, one of its board members, Moncef Slaoui, was appointed the nation’s new “vaccine czar,” leading him to resign from his position at the company and announce plans to divest more than $12 million of equity holdings amid concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
“It’s a bunch of opinions in a press release with no data,” Dr. Peter Jay Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, told ABC News.
“You don’t do science by press release.”
This type of behavior can have a “damaging effect,” Hotez said, by offering false hope that a vaccine could be ready in weeks or months, when the actual timeline is likely significantly longer.
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September 30, 2017