Coronavirus variants called 'escape mutants' threaten our progress in the pandemic

Hello all,

My name is Allison DeAngelis, a senior healthcare reporter covering biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and welcome Insider Healthcare. Today in healthcare news:

  • Coronavirus variants called “escape mutants” threaten the progress we’ve made; 
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to call for drug companies to relinquish their rights to Covid products;
  • Alife wants to stop the huge bills that come with infertility treatments.

If you’re new to this newsletter, sign up here. Comments, tips, fun facts? Email me or tweet @ADeAngelis_bio. Now, let’s dig into the latest in healthcare news…

I don’t know about you, but I’m itching to get out of my house. I’m tired of these walls (so much so that I’m considering repainting multiple rooms — send your suggestions of a neutral paint color for an entryway/staircase). I find myself watching many travel YouTubers’ videos from 2018 and 2019.

So, the idea that US travelers could be welcome abroad is really enticing. I’m not fully vaccinated yet, but I quickly clicked on my colleague Aria Bendix’s piece detailing which countries are allowing US travelers and what kind of paperwork you’d need to have.

Are you ready to travel outside of the US? Where would you go? Let me know. 

As COVID-19 continues to evolve into newer, “fitter” variants, it may outpace our ability to stop it with vaccines.Samantha Lee/Insider

  • People are starting to feel hope that the pandemic has finally turned a corner. 
  • But we’re entering one of the most precarious moments in the pandemic as we race vaccines against variants.
  • The big question now is, have we seen the worst variations this virus has to offer? 

Full story here >>

Bernie Sanders says US drug companies should relinquish intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccines 

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders repeated calls for pharmaceutical companies to relinquish intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccines.
  • If companies like Pfizer and Moderna relinquished IP rights, their vaccines could be produced globally. 
  • But the companies have opposed these calls, claiming risks to vaccine safety.


Women struggling to get pregnant face huge bills for infertility treatments. Alife Health is using AI to make IVF more affordable.

  • Fertility tech startup Alife Health raised a $9.5 million seed round. 
  • It uses artificial intelligence to make the IVF process more effective and affordable. 
  • Founder Paxton Maeder-York hopes to help create personalized treatment plans for IVF patients. 

Here’s how they plan to do it >>

More stories we’re reading today:

  • The leader of the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer said he fled India because of menacing threats (Insider)
  • I’m a former hacker and I believe the current round of digital vaccine passports pose real security risks. (Insider)
  • Digital health startups are booming. Their customers are overwhelmed. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Two veteran investors on how to bet on US marijuana legalization (Insider)
  • Six patients with dementia went to Mexico for an unproved gene therapy, a biotech CEO claims (STAT)


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