Friday, January 29, 2021

Why aren’t therapeutic antibodies being used more to treat COVID-19?

By Nicholson Price, Rachel Sachs, Jacob S. Sherkow, and Lisa Larrimore Ouellette

When former President Donald Trump contracted COVID-19 in fall 2020, he was treated with monoclonal antibodies, touted as potentially miraculous treatments. Unlike other treatments so touted, there is some rigorous evidence to support these assertions: antibody drugs look like the best treatments currently available to prevent COVID cases from progressing to hospitalization. But months later, the drugs are in limited use and seem to be only a moderately important part of the COVID-19 response. Why aren’t antibodies making more of a difference for ordinary Americans?

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Irene Calboli: Trademarking COVID

Irene Calboli, professor of law at Texas A&M University School of Law, has written a new empirical article reporting that "the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a veritable tsunami of trademark applications" for COVID, QUARANTINE, SOCIAL DISTANCING, and other pandemic-related terms.  Indeed, Calboli concludes that trademarking of COVID-related terms is unusually rampant, even when compared to past tragedies and disasters such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Ebola. "Ultimately," Calboli writes, "probably only the HIV/AIDS pandemic can be compared with COVID-19 in terms public awareness, societal fears, and strong emotions," and even "the beginning of the HIV/AIDS pandemic did not see a similar rush to trademark filings" that we have seen with COVID. While several practitioners have also noted the large number of applications filed for these terms in the past month, Calboli's paper is the first to survey these applications comprehensively and in detail. 

The full article, Trademarks and the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Empirical Analysis of Trademark Applications Including the Terms “COVID,” “Coronavirus,” “Quarantine,” “Social Distancing”, “Six Feet Apart,” and “Shelter in Place, can be downloaded on SSRN.  The data are included as an appendix to the paper.  The article will be published in the Akron Law Review's IP Symposium Issue as part of the Annual Akron Law IP Scholars Conference. (The other scholars publishing in this year's IP issue are Margaret Chon, Robert Merges, Kristen Osenga, and Sharon Sandeen.) 

I interviewed Professor Calboli on her findings. The interview is transcribed in this post.  To follow along, here is one of the many beautiful tables and informational graphics in the article, included with Calboli's permission.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

What can policymakers learn from the disastrously slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout?

By Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, Nicholson Price, Rachel Sachs, and Jacob S. Sherkow

In the middle of a record number of COVID-19 infections and deaths—and continued evidence of racial disparities in the pandemic’s effects—December brought some good news to the fight against the pandemic: the FDA’s emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and the ensuing nationwide rollouts. The record-breaking vaccine development timeline and the videos of healthcare workers receiving early vaccines are worth celebrating. But the subsequent distribution has been tragically slow—echoing distribution challenges for COVID-related goods ranging from PPE to diagnostics. On Dec. 29, Dr. Leana Wen noted that at the initial vaccination rate, it would take 10 years to vaccinate the roughly 80% of Americans needed to achieve herd immunity. According to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, as of today, fewer than 10 million vaccines have been administered in the United States. States are still sitting on nearly two-thirds of the doses they have received, and the federal government is holding half the U.S. supply in reserve. In this post we explain what went wrong and how policymakers can correct course for COVID-19 and avoid such disasters in the future.