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Healthcare is in the midst of a ‘paradigm shift’

July 8, 2020, 10:14 AM UTC

Good morning.

Will the pandemic lead to a revolution in health care science?  

That was the tantalizing possibility I took away from day one of Fortune Brainstorm Health. This was our first-ever all-virtual conference, and it demonstrated the amazing possibilities of the format. The team, lead by Fortune Editor-in-Chief Clifton Leaf, assembled a Who’s Who of health care leaders—on one platform, if not in one place—for a fascinating day of discussions about the future.

Many of the participants emphasized the extraordinary cooperation the pandemic has prompted in health science—something that I’ve written about here before. “We are all on various collaborations together,” said Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan. “An unprecedented level of cooperation between institutions of business, government, academia, and institutions like the NIH,” said Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio. “Lots of shots on goal,” said Amgen CEO Robert Bradway.

I’ve assumed that the unusual spasm of pharma cooperation would pass with the pandemic. But Caforio argued otherwise. “My hope is this will be a galvanizing moment,” he said. “What we have learned is to work collaboratively like never before, to challenge our thinking, and to accelerate the drug development process. We have done things in six months that would have taken five to ten years.” He believes the industry can “take the learnings of the last six months and apply them to other challenges, like cancer”—or heart disease.

Jennifer Doudna, the biochemist who helped pioneer gene-editing technology CRISPR, cited the work of Thomas Kuhn, who argued scientific revolutions tend to be episodic—with “paradigm shifts”—and not continuous. “We are in a moment like that,” Doudna said. “We are seeing some really interesting things happening right now,” born from the pandemic, that are accelerating science. “These are all changes that are likely to stick around.”

Let’s hope she’s right. We need a silver lining.

Also on the Brainstorm Health virtual stage yesterday was Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, whose company is pursuing a COVID vaccine using a new, RNA-based technology platform. Bancel says the company still intends to start its Phase 3 trials of the vaccine with 30,000 people by the end of July.  

You can read more from today’s Brainstorm Health here. Up today: J&J CEO Alex Gorsky, Gavi CEO Seth Berkley, and a special performance for the event by pianist Lang Lang.

Alan Murray


Out of the WHO 

President Donald Trump has formally notified the WHO the U.S. will pull out of the organization over criticism of its relationship with China and its handling of the pandemic. The U.S. has been a member for 72 years, and is one of the largest funders of the organization. The removal won't go into effect until next July, after the election. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says the country will remain in the agency if he wins. WSJ

Deutsche Bank settles

Deutsche Bank has agreed to pay $150 million to settle claims it broke compliance rules in its dealing with the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The bank had been accused of failing to flag or prevent millions of dollars of suspicious transactions, even though Epstein had already been convicted of sex trafficking charges. Fortune

Novavax spike   

Shares of a little known Maryland drug company, Novavax, spiked after the U.S. government awarded it $1.6 billion to produce 100 million doses of a covid vaccine. And yet, writes Fortune's Jeff John Roberts,"Novavax has never brought a drug to market." It's also facing stiff competition. Under the same program—Operation Warp Speed—the government has also backed the likes of Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. Fortune

Lagarde goes green

Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, has committed to examine using the bank's EUR 2.8 trillion ($3 trillion) asset purchase scheme to make the eurozone economy greener. It is the first such commitment by an ECB president, but her central bank peers have increasingly pushed green financing forwards. FT


TikTok Ban? 

Cue the angry teens. President Donald Trump says he is considering banning the app, famous for launching viral dances and comedy sketches, over China's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The app's parent company is China’s ByteDance Ltd. Fortune

HK dollar peg 

After reports that advisors to President Donald Trump want the U.S. to undermine Hong Kong's longstanding dollar peg, some economists warned that doing so would require measures like sanctions on banks, or drying up the swaps market, and that such a move would be both impractical—and would hurt U.S. interests. Fortune

Mafia bonds

Bonds backed by the criminal proceeds of one of Italy's most notorious criminal networks have worked their way into the most respectable reaches of banking, an FT investigation has found. In just one case, bonds backed by front companies run by the notorious Calabrian ’Ndrangheta were purchased by a large European private bank—with consulting services provided by EY. FT

End of the 'lipstick index'?  

The so-called 'lipstick index'—the idea that, during economic downturns, consumers turn to affordable pick-me-ups like a new lipstick—was first floated by the chairman of Estée Lauder after 2001. It's always been difficult to be prove—but in the age of face masks, it may truly be under threat. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn.