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(Delta) Variants at the Gates

Been to the Disco lately? In the Netherlands, dancing is fueling a new wave of COVID infections. You can’t ignore the rise of COVID-19 cases globally after the Delta variant began circulating widely in June. Our hearts go out to colleagues and citizens affected by the spread of Delta in India, Indonesia and Britain. Cases doubled in less than a month, and we’re seeing the same trend in the US.

Unfortunately, this news is neither surprising nor unexpected given the mutability of SARS-CoV-2 and the slow pace of the vaccine roll out worldwide (especially in developing economies).

What’s the implication for business travel and public health? Eradication is no longer a viable option. Sorry guys, vaccines will be required to start jobs, attend meetings and travel to conferences, (not just in hospitals) and mask mandates (indoors) will be back. But don’t expect business to slow down. Get your vaccine, and then you’ll have “Permission to Dance” (yes, that’s a BTS Video, check it out for your slice of joy).

The bigger question is how vaccines will work for a virus that is constantly circulating and evolving, as we see with seasonal flu. Now, scientists should be designing vaccines with variants in mind. Yes, we have a vaccine for that! We’ve used our EpiCC tool to perform in silico analysis to determine the potential efficacy of our multi-epitope vaccine candidate. As the radar plot below shows, EPV-COV-19 still has greater than 90% epitope conservation for all known variants, and a whopping 99% conservation for Delta.

Fearless Science adds Amy Rosenberg to the team!

For those of you who have wanted to meet Dr. Amy Rosenberg (a thirty-year veteran of the FDA) in person, we have great news. She will be joining EpiVax in the Fall of 2021, and joining Katie and me on the Fearless Science World Tour (FSWT). Amy will add her extensive knowledge of immunogenicity to our many programs, while also helping move Tregitope to the clinic (See press release for details). See below for our “coming out” picture.

We are still expecting to visit Boston (for TIDES), Philly (Pharm360), Amsterdam, Paris, Basel and Tokyo (depending on COVID entry requirements) as we move back to in-person seminars. For starters, Amy will speak at the 14th Annual Westin Immunogenicity Seminar in Tokyo, and 6th Annual Immunogenicity & Tolerance Seminar in Amsterdam. Want to join us for some Fearless Science? Pre-registration links are below.

Burkholderia in the U.S.

Now for a mystery…. how did a cluster of melioidosis cases linked to the Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria happen in the U.S. West? Well that’s what the CDC is trying to figure out!

Endemic to Southeast Asia, Burkholderia is only rarely found in the U.S., and then usually in people that have recently traveled abroad. The curious thing here is that none of the patients in this cluster have traveled. Did you know EpiVax is working on Burkholderia? Actually, our team is looking for Treg epitopes that may be present in Burkholderia vaccine candidates. And they found them! See below for a recent poster on the project by the Vaccine Team.