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San Diego Biotech Industry, Universities Leading Global Fight Against COVID-19

San Diego Life Science Organizations Researching Vaccines, Manufacturing Vital Medical Equipment

Friday, March 27, 2020 - NEWS RELEASE

SAN DIEGO – Highlighting how San Diego is stepping up during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer today highlighted local biotech organizations that are leading the global fight against COVID-19. Mayor Faulconer was joined by UC San Diego Health’s Co-Director of the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics Dr. Robert Schooley, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Senior Vice President of Research and Development Dr. Kate Broderick, and Arcturus Therapeutics CEO Joseph Payne.

“San Diego’s biotechnology community is leading the worldwide fight against COVID-19,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “The vaccines and treatments that may ultimately change the course of this global pandemic may be discovered right here in San Diego.”

Mayor Faulconer highlighted the work by UC San Diego Health to conduct clinical drug trials, antibody screening and the 3D printing of ventilator parts – which are in high demand around the globe. In addition, he called attention to the potentially life-saving vaccine development efforts by San Diego companies. Mayor Faulconer highlighted Arcturus Therapeutics, a San Diego-based medical company, and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, which has a lab in San Diego, as two examples of local firms working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Mayor Faulconer has spoken with regional biotech and medical device firms that are leading the charge to address the needs created by the coronavirus. On Tuesday, Mayor Faulconer and Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry held a video conference convened by Biocom to discuss the work their member companies are doing to diagnose, treat and find a vaccine for COVID-19.

What San Diego biotechnology and medical experts are saying:

“UC San Diego’s scientists and health care professionals have been heavily engaged in preparing for the epidemic on all fronts,” said Dr. Robert Schooley with UC San Diego Health. “We’re working with California biotech companies to bring new coronavirus drugs to UC San Diego Health to start vaccine research with local San Diego companies. We’re also working on campus to rapidly construct respirators with 3D printing and other approaches to address the potential shortage.”

“Inovio is a San Diego based biotech leading the development of DNA based medicines. We are projecting to begin testing our DNA vaccine against COVID-19 next month which is an unprecedented development speed,” said Inovio Vice President of Research and Development Dr. Kate Broderick. “The team at Inovio is honored to be working towards a vaccine solution for the critical situation that we find ourselves in today.”

“Arcturus is working diligently to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with Duke-NUS Medical School. Our vaccine works at extraordinarily low doses and is readily manufactured,” said Joseph Payne, President & CEO of Arcturus Therapeutics. “We are preparing for a clinical trial this year. If we are able to procure U.S. government funding, we will be able to stockpile the Arcturus vaccine here in the United States.”

Mayor Faulconer also introduced #SanDiegoStepsUp, a campaign to illustrate San Diego’s compassionate spirit during the coronavirus pandemic. He encouraged residents to use the hashtag online to share stories of San Diegans who are going above and beyond to help their community. 

Today he spoke of three restaurants that are donating meals to first responders, hospitals and San Diegans who have lost their jobs. He previously shared stories of San Diegans who helped seniors in need and answered the call for blood donations.

For more information on the California “Stay At Home” order, including what’s closed, what’s open and which industries are exempted by the state, please visit California COVID-19 response website.

For information regarding COVID-19 cases and directives from County of San Diego public health officials, please visit www.coronavirus-sd.com.

For the updates on City services, programs, links to helpful information and steps the public can take to help reduce the spread of the disease, please visit sandiego.gov/coronavirus

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