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Messages from our first-ever virtual Brainstorm Health

July 7, 2020, 10:19 PM UTC

Good afternoon, readers.

We just wrapped up day one of the first-ever virtual Brainstorm Health conference—a meeting of medical minds in a time when medicine is more important than ever.

It would be easier to describe what we didn’t cover than what we did. Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), spoke to the telehealth industry’s staying power. It’s a force that’s become increasingly important in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The genie is out of the bottle when it comes to telehealth,” said Verma. (We’ve previously written about the promises and shortcomings of telemedicine despite its new popularity and evolving regulations, including issues as simple as being able to have a reliable broadband connection.)

And with NBA players slated to go to Florida for something resembling the end of a season, we heard from commissioner Adam Silver on the challenges of re-opening a sports league. While repeating that he’d still go to Florida, he addresses a whole lot of nuances about what would happen if an outbreak occurred between the players.

“[I]t’s the right question, and I’m not sure yet,” said Silver. “Certainly, if we had any sort of a significant spread at all within our campus, we would be shut down again.”

Silver went on to say that it would “be concerning if once [the players] sit through our quarantine period, and then were to test positive, we would know that, in essence, there’s a hole in our bubble, that our campus is not working in some way.”

But our conversations throughout the event loomed even larger. From science to community to just, well, everyday life, speakers and panelists spoke to the issues which most affect us at this critical moment, and what we can do about it.

We’ll have much more on this in the next few days (for the fellow biopharma and drug development nerds—former FDA commissioners, drug giant CEOs, and other titans of industry happen to be involved in both today’s and tomorrow’s sessions).

Brainstorm Health wraps up tomorrow afternoon. I hope you’re all doing well during these wild times.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


A bluetooth device for your heartbeat. MobiHealthNews reports  that Abbott Laboratories has gained FDA clearance for MyMerlinPulse. This Bluetooth-connected device can record heart rhythms to an app and connect with doctors who can assess if something's wrong enough to warrant an in-person visit. (MobiHealthNews)


Science may never be the same. Jennifer Doudna, the pioneer behind CRISPR gene-editing, had a few things to say during today's Fortune Brainstorm Health virtual conference. Here's one that stood out to me: "Sometimes there's a long period of time without a lot of change, and then things accumulate and suddenly there's literally a revolution that changes everybody's thinking, that alters the way we understand our world," said Doudna. "I think we're in that moment right now." One can only hope. (Fortune)


WHO admits coronavirus can spread through the air. Under pressure from scientists, the World Health Organization (WHO) has admitted that there is increasing evidence that coronavirus is airborne. "The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings - especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out," said Benedetta Allegranzi, an infectious control lead for the organization on Tuesday. This speaks to the evolving science of the virus and the pressure that public agencies face when determining a nuanced pathogen's effects while it wreaks havoc. (Reuters)


An update on who's received a PPP loanby Jeff John Roberts

Face masks may have killed of the 'lipstick index'by Katherine Dunn

Self-driving cars are returning to work tooby Jonathan Vanian

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