October 29, 2020

Biggest healthcare stories for the week ending September 25

Hello,

Hope you all had good weeks! I celebrated the eighth birthday of my dog, Junior. (Photos here of him with his present, because we could all use more dog photos in our lives these days). 

I also spent time reflecting on Tuesday’s news that the pandemic has killed at least 200,000 people in the US.

Reporter Jose Pagliery on Twitter reminded me of where that stacks up with the initial projections hospitals were using way back in February. At the time, one expert’s best guess was that there would be 96 million cases in the US and 480,000 deaths. Reading those estimates at the time provided some gravity to what was about to hit the US.  

Roughly seven months from when that presentation was given, we’re at 200,000 deaths and 7 million confirmed cases in the US. 

Before I get into this week’s top stories:


Trump NIH NIAID coronavirus vaccine

Deputy Director at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Barney Graham, speaks with President Donald Trump during a tour of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Bethesda, Md.

Evan Vucci/Associated Press


Your ultimate guide to understanding vaccine results

This week, we saw more vaccine-makers get into their late-stage coronavirus vaccine trials:

Another big consideration will be getting trials that show how well the vaccines work in kids off the ground. Andrew Dunn reports that the vaccine frontrunners still haven’t started these key studies.

Moderna, however, told Andrew it intends to start a pediatric vaccine trial this year.

Andrew’s been talking to experts to get a better idea of how to interpret the late-stage vaccine data when it starts showing up. As part of that, he asked the experts what they’d want to see in the data before they’d get a vaccine themselves, and when they’d feel comfortable taking a shot.

Their answers varied from right away, to holding out for certain pieces of information that might take years to get.

There’s going to be a lot to keep in mind when reading about the vaccine results that could come as early as October.

Lucky for you, Andrew’s compiled the ultimate guide to understanding the big questions: Is the shot safe? How effective is it? 

Read the full story here>>

5 experts lay out how they’ll determine whether a coronavirus vaccine is really safe and effective — here’s what to know to evaluate the data for yourself


trevor bezdek doug hirsch

GoodRx co-CEOs Trevor Bezdek and Doug Hirsch.

GoodRx


Another week, another digital health IPO 

Coming just a week after American Well’s initial public offering, GoodRx made its stock-market debut. 

Newly-married Megan Hernbroth had a busy first week back following the developments as the stock jumped in its first day of trading. 

In case you missed it:

GoodRx raised $1.6 billion in the IPO, and as of Friday, the stock’s trading at just under $50 a share, up from the $33 share price it set before its first day of trading. 

Read the full story here>>

Discount prescription drug startup GoodRx surged 53% in its first day of trading. Here’s what you need to know.


thermometer temperature patient appointment doctor

A medical technician checks a patient’s temperature during an appointment at the clinic in the Discovery Communications headquarters building in Silver Spring, Maryland, December 3, 2009.


Jim Bourg/Reuters



One of Amazon’s key health projects is growing

This week, Blake Dodge kept a close eye on how tech giants are pushing deeper into healthcare.

Blake spoke with leaders at Microsoft about its latest healthcare services. They laid out how it’s using the cloud to take on Google and Amazon.

You can read the full story here>>

Amazon this week expanded out its Amazon Care service to employees in Washington state. (Previously, the pilot was just available to employees in the Seattle area.)

Blake spoke with Erik Cardenas, one of the tech leads for Amazon Care. His job is to coordinate all kinds of patient information into a seamless system. 

He shared with Blake how he got to be a key part of Amazon’s push into healthcare. 

Read the full story here>> 

How a 38-year-old who taught himself health technology is shaping a key part of Amazon’s plans to transform healthcare


Biden Kamala Harris Coronavirus

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris received a briefing on COVID-19 from health experts in Wilmington, Delaware, on August 13, 2020.

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images


We’re 39 days away from Election Day

… if you can believe it. One thing I keep reminding myself is we might not know the results of the election that night. 

Leading up to it, President Donald Trump on Thursday claimed he’d mail $200 cards to millions of seniors in the weeks before the election to help them pay for their prescription drugs. 

But as policy reporter Joseph Zeballos-Roig reports: It’s not clear Trump can actually do that.

In the meantime, Kimberly Leonard, now a part of Business Insider’s All-Star DC Bureau, talked to insiders about what might happen to vaccine plans should Joe Biden win. 

Biden would face a lot of distrust, and a smooth transition between administrations isn’t a sure thing. What’s definitely in the cards: Dr. Anthony Fauci would stick around. 

Read the full story here>>

A Biden victory in 2020 would disrupt the race for a coronavirus vaccine. Insiders reveal the future of Operation Warp Speed minus Trump.


Lastly, I’ve got some updates from the venture-backed health insurer world. 

First: Healthcare startup Bind, known for its on-demand plans, is getting into the insurance business, starting with Florida. It has its eyes on the individual exchanges next. For background: last year, we got an exclusive look at the presentation the company uses to explain its deductible-free model.

Also: Bright Health just raised $500 million from the likes of Tiger Global Management and T. Rowe Price.

It’s been a busy year for the venture-backed health insurers. Oscar Health is reportedly looking at a 2021 IPO after raising additional capital in May. 

I caught up with Bright’s chief financial officer Cathy Smith on Tuesday, who told me the most recent round — with its crossover investors — would suggest that the next logical step is an IPO. When that’ll happen remains to be seen. 

“The business will tell us when it’s ready,” Smith told me. 

You can catch up on the financial state of Bright, Oscar and others here.


With that, I’ll leave you to your weekends. I’ll be kicking off mine by getting a flu shot — consider this my compulsory healthcare-editor reminder to get yours as well! 

As always, you can find me at lramsey@businessinsider.com, and you can reach the entire healthcare team at healthcare@businessinsider.com.

– Lydia 

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