The New York Times, July 13, 2022 (with Rebecca Robbins)


The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax, a biotechnology company in Maryland that received significant federal funding to produce the shot. The vaccine will be a new option for Americans as vaccination rates stagnate.

After two years of development, the vaccine has finally overcome manufacturing problems to become the fourth shot to earn clearance in the United States. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet next week and are expected to discuss who should get the Novavax vaccine.

The two-dose vaccine was authorized as a primary immunization series for adults, rather than a booster, which is likely to limit its market at first. The Biden administration said earlier this week that it would buy 3.2 million doses, enough to fully vaccinate 1.6 million people in the United States. In announcing its purchase, the government said that Novavax was expected to finish its quality testing “in the next few weeks,” a necessary step before the doses are released. Continue reading “Novavax’s latecomer Covid-19 vaccine gets U.S. authorization.”

The New York Times, July 11, 2022 (with Rebecca Robbins)


The Biden administration announced on Monday that it would buy 3.2 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine from the Maryland pharmaceutical company Novavax that is expected to soon receive authorization in the United States.

If cleared by regulators, Novavax’s two-dose vaccine would become the fourth coronavirus vaccine available in the United States. It would be available at first as a primary immunization series for adults. After that initial authorization, the Food and Drug Administration could later authorize the vaccine as a booster shot.

The company hopes that its protein-based shot, a vaccine technology that has been widely used for decades, will appeal to Americans who declined to be vaccinated with shots using messenger RNA technology. About two-thirds of people in the United States are fully vaccinated. Continue reading “The U.S. government will buy 3.2 million doses of Novavax’s Covid vaccine.”

The New York Times, July 6, 2022


An experimental drug initially developed to fight cancer cut the risk of death for people hospitalized with Covid by half, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The drug, sabizabulin, seemed to be more effective than others that have been authorized for severely ill Covid patients. Veru, the company in Miami that developed the drug, has applied to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency authorization of its use. That would potentially add a new weapon to the modest arsenal available to hospitalized patients, experts said.

“This looks super impressive,” said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta who was not involved in the study. “We have a small number of treatments for patients with severe disease that improve mortality, but another treatment that can further reduce deaths would be very welcome.”

Continue reading “Cancer Drug Greatly Reduces Deaths in Hospitalized Covid Patients”

The New York Times, July 2, 2022


This month will mark a new chapter in the search for extraterrestrial life, when the most powerful space telescope yet built will start spying on planets that orbit other stars. Astronomers hope that the James Webb Space Telescope will reveal whether some of those planets harbor atmospheres that might support life.

Identifying an atmosphere in another solar system would be remarkable enough. But there is even a chance — albeit tiny — that one of these atmospheres will offer what is known as a biosignature: a signal of life itself.

“I think we will be able to find planets that we think are interesting — you know, good possibilities for life,” said Megan Mansfield, an astronomer at the University of Arizona. “But we won’t necessarily be able to just identify life immediately.” Continue reading “Webb Telescope Will Look for Signs of Life Way Out There”

The New York Times, June 27, 2022


Ten years ago this week, Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues published the results of a test-tube experiment on bacterial genes. When the study came out in the journal Science on June 28, 2012, it did not make headline news. In fact, over the next few weeks, it did not make any news at all.

Looking back, Dr. Doudna wondered if the oversight had something to do with the wonky title she and her colleagues had chosen for the study: “A Programmable Dual RNA-Guided DNA Endonuclease in Adaptive Bacterial Immunity.”

“I suppose if I were writing the paper today, I would have chosen a different title,” Dr. Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley, said in an interview. Continue reading “CRISPR, 10 Years On: Learning to Rewrite the Code of Life”