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BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) And Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) Files Petition Against CureVac BV (NASDAQ: CVAC) Over Patent Breach

Manufacturer of the COVID-19 vaccine BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) and partner Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) announced on Tuesday that they had lodged a petition with the…

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Manufacturer of the COVID-19 vaccine BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) and partner Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) announced on Tuesday that they had lodged a petition with the US District Court in Massachusetts, requesting for a ruling that their actions did not violate US patents claimed by rival CureVac BV (NASDAQ: CVAC).

CureVac accused of trying to take advantage of BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines

Following the failure of CureVac’s efforts to develop its own vaccine, the complaint, submitted on Monday, claimed that CureVac is attempting to capitalize on the popularity of BioNTech and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccinations.

As a result of BioNTech’s utilization of mRNA tech, CureVac, at the start of this month, launched a patent case in Germany versus the company. In addition, CureVac did not exclude taking additional legal proceedings versus BioNTech’s collaborator Pfizer or competing for mRNA vaccine manufacturer Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA).

According to BioNTech, CureVac’s US patents are identical to the German patent rights that CureVac used in the German legal proceeding. Curevac had also filed a complaint against BioNTech for intellectual property rights infringement.

BioNTech and Pfizer urged the Boston court to rule that its Comirnaty vaccine doesn’t infringe upon three RNA-based vaccine-related CureVac patent rights. The businesses testified before the court that Comirnaty doesn’t operate similarly to the patented technology used by CureVac.

Several firms have filed suits against BioNTech, Pfizer, and Moderna 

The vaccines use lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to carry the molecules effectively into the body, and one of the patents relates to messenger RNA (mRNA) coupled to LNPs. This year, several biotech firms have filed US patent cases against Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna regarding the LNP technology utilized in their COVID-19 vaccines.

According to Pfizer, $32B in sales from Comirnaty are anticipated this year.

Although it hadn’t yet received official service, CureVac said in a release that it was informed of BioNTech’s legal action but is yet to be served formally. However, the company added that it would review the matter in detail and then represent its position accordingly.

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The post BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) And Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) Files Petition Against CureVac BV (NASDAQ: CVAC) Over Patent Breach appeared first on Wall Street PR.

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Government

Head Of The Lancet’s COVID-19 Investigation Is “Convinced” It Came Out Of A Lab

Head Of The Lancet’s COVID-19 Investigation Is "Convinced" It Came Out Of A Lab

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

The head of the…

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Head Of The Lancet's COVID-19 Investigation Is "Convinced" It Came Out Of A Lab

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

The head of the preeminent scientific journal The Lancet’s COVID-19 origins Commission is ‘convinced’ that the virus came out of a lab and says that a real investigation is being blocked.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs told Current Affairs that he is “pretty convinced [COVID-19] came out of US lab biotechnology” and has warned that ongoing research could lead to another pandemic outbreak.

Sachs notes that scientists who dismissed the lab leak theory did so “before they had done any research at all,” adding “they’re creating a narrative. And they’re denying the alternative hypothesis without looking closely at it.”

Sachs points to the ‘gain of function’ research and the genetic markers found in the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus that indicate it was manipulated to be more deadly.

“What’s interesting, and concerning if I may say so, is that the research that was underway very actively and being promoted, was to insert furin cleavage sites into SARS-like viruses to see what would happen. Oops!” Sachs states.

“They’re not looking,” Sachs says of scientists who dismiss the lab leak, adding “They just keep telling us, ‘Look at the market, look at the market, look at the market!’ But they don’t address this alternative. They don’t even look at the data. They don’t even ask questions. And the truth is from the beginning, they haven’t asked the real questions.”

Sachs further labels the efforts to distract from the lab research as “misdirection” and “sleight of hand”.

“There is a huge amount of reason to believe that that research was underway. Because there are published papers on this. There are interviews on this. There are research proposals. But NIH isn’t talking. It’s not asking. And these scientists have never asked either,” Sachs further asserts.

He continues, “From the very first day, they have kept hidden from view the alternative. And when they discuss the alternative, they don’t discuss the research program. They discuss complete straw men about the lab, not the actual kind of research that was underway, which was to stick furin cleavage sites into SARS-like viruses in a way that could have created SARS-Cov-2.”

“What I’m calling for is not the conclusion. I’m calling for the investigation,” Sachs urges, adding “Finally, after two and a half years of this, it’s time to fess up that it might have come out of a lab and here’s the data that we need to know to find out whether it did.”

Sachs also addresses EcoHealth Alliance and Peter Daszak, noting that he originally personally appointed Daszak to chair the task force of the Lancet’s pandemic commission.

Sachs says “I realized he [Daszak] was not telling me the truth. And it took me some months, but the more I saw it, the more I resented it. And so I told him, ‘Look, you have to leave.'”

Sachs adds that once he fired Daszak, other scientists began attacking him.

“I asked them: “What are your connections with all of this?” They didn’t tell me. Then when the Freedom of Information Act released some of these documents that NIH had been hiding from the public, I saw that people that were attacking me were also part of this thing. So I disbanded that whole task force,” Sachs notes.

“So my own experience was to witness close up how they’re not talking. And they’re trying to keep our eyes on something else. And away from even asking the questions that we’re talking about,” Sachs further warns.

Sachs concludes that he “Doesn’t trust” the governments and scientists who are dismissing the lab leak theory, adding “I want to know. Because even what we know of the dangerous research is enough to raise a lot of questions of responsibility for the future. And to pose the question: ‘Hey, what other viruses are you guys working on? What should we know?'”

“I want to know what’s being done. I want to know what other governments are doing, too, not just ours. I want some global control over this stuff,” Sachs further urges.

The professor finally calls for “a bipartisan congressional oversight investigation that has subpoena power,” urging “Give us your lab records, your notebooks, your data files of virus strains, and so forth.”

As we have highlighted, this is what Senator Rand Paul is pursuing relentlessly.

Following an initial hearing last week before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee, Paul revealed that there is a committee that is supposed to oversee experimentation with potentially lethal viruses, but that it is above the oversight of Congress.

“We don’t know the names. We don’t know that they ever meet, and we don’t have any records of their meetings,” the Senator noted, adding “It’s top-secret. Congress is not allowed to know. So whether the committee actually exists, we’re uncertain.”

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Wed, 08/10/2022 - 06:30

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Economics

Boulevard books $70M to help beauty and wellness salons with their bookings

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to getting ahold of an appointment for your hair or another treatment… that’s a different…

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Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to getting ahold of an appointment for your hair or another treatment… that’s a different story: the bespoke nature of a lot of the work has meant that a large swathe of the professionals providing these services have stayed offline when it comes to interfacing with customers.

But that is changing, and today, Boulevard — one of the wave of software companies that’s building a route to digitizing for hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, face and skin care service providers, and others in the world of beauty and wellness services, providing services for booking appointments, messaging clients, and taking payments — is announcing that it has raised $70 million in funding, a signal of changing demand and the traction this startup in particular is getting in the space.

The funding, a Series C, will be used to continue expanding Boulevard’s product and engineering teams, and to build out more tools targeting an ever-wider set of users in the bigger wellness and beauty sector (those product additions are typically big: it most recently added a whole new payments feature). This round is being led by Point72 Private Investments, with previous backers Toba Capital, Index Ventures, Bonfire Ventures, BoxGroup, and VMG Partners also participating.

It brings the total raised by the company to around $110 million (per Pitchbook data) since Boulevard was founded in February 2016; and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, CEO and co-founder Matt Danna said in an interview that the figure has tripled since last summer — particularly notable, given the current pressures in the tech sector and overall financial markets.

To be clear, Boulevard faces a lot of competition — other big names include Zenoti, which at the end of 2020 was valued at over $1 billion; Booksy, which Pitchbook estimates was valued at just under $540 million in November 2021 after it, too, raised $70 million earlier that year; and Fresha, which was valued at over $640 million at the end of 2021, among many others.

But at the same time, Los Angeles-based Boulevard got this funding infusion at a boosted valuation because it has been on a roll. Focusing on the U.S. to date, the company said that it saw an 188% growth in annual recurring revenue compared to a year ago, with more than 25,000 individuals in 2,000 salons and spas in the country now using its platform. It’s also a massive market — and by Danna’s estimates, still with a lot of untapped business — with Boulevard quoting figures that forecast personal care and beauty sales passing $1.4 trillion, and the spa sector passing $150 billion, both by 2025.

The gap in the market that Boulevard is building to fill is that one-person bands, independent salons, and bigger chains all grapple with the same problem. Personal care is exactly that — personal and individualized — and therefore it’s been tricky for personal care specialists to use scheduling tools to organize it. Individual clients have differing requirements, treatments may take more or less time, and specialists are not robots whose time management can be predicted.

Danna and his co-founder Sean Stavropoulos (who is the CTO) previously worked together at Fullscreen respectively as head of product and head of engineering (they were early to that idea: Danna describes it as “creator tools for YouTube before YouTube built them itself”) and he said they came up with the idea for Boulevard out of a joke between them. “I was making fun of [Sean’s] hair and saying he needed it cut, and he was telling me he couldn’t find time to get on the phone for an appointment,” he said. They realized there was a lot of friction in the process that didn’t need to be there: why did they need to make a phone call in this day and age?

“We started obsessing about this,” Danna went on. They decided that this would be what they would tackle and build as a business.

Things then took a investigative, plainclothes turn. The pair posed as UCLA students doing research, Danna said, going from salon to salon asking questions about what worked and what did not with scheduling in their workplaces. They built a picture of why so much was still done offline. In short, it was about “yield optimization,” Danna said: specialists and their salons wanted to be perfectly booked up, and salons weren’t actually completely offline, either. Roughly half used some software on premises or in the cloud, but none of it did the trick both for the salons nor their customers.

Their solution was to give users more control over how to build and personalize appointment lengths for clients depending on specific treatments and specialists, and for each booking to in turn effect how the rest of the day’s schedule looked (not unlike Google Maps and the constraint solver used there to help estimate travel time for vehicle routing in a particular set of traffic conditions, Danna explained). In time, the plan will be also to help individual consumers (clients) build their own profiles that can be applied to any bookings they make with a particular salon, and maybe potentially elsewhere, too, marketplace style.

The rebound that Boulevard saw in the pandemic is another sign of the demand in the market, and perhaps a signal that its customers and the industry in general are more recession-proof than some might have assumed. Danna said that Boulevard’s business took an inevitable pause in the second quarter of 2020 as Covid-19 took hold, but “it was bouncing back within a quarter of that,” he said. Albeit that is with a different-shaped set of workers.

“Across all of the businesses we work with, they are doing 15% more revenues than pre-pandemic, although they are down 20% staff,” he said. “It was a big reshuffle.”

It will be interesting to see how and if that continues to play out as Boulevard eyes up international expansion. But for now, it’s a startup its investors believe is on solid footing in its home market. 

“As the self-care industry continues to grow, so too will the role technology plays in creating the seamless experiences that keep clients coming back,” said Eddie Kang, a partner at Point72 Private investments, in a statement. “Not only has Boulevard designed an elegant and visionary platform that fills a pressing need in a fast-growing industry, but they’ve also built a thoughtful, customer-centric culture validated through world-class retention. We’re excited to support the Boulevard team as they continue to grow.” Kang is joining the board with this round.

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How college students perceive academic stress affects their mental well-being

Academic stress takes a toll on the mental well-being of certain groups of college students more than others – a correlation further exacerbated by the…

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Academic stress takes a toll on the mental well-being of certain groups of college students more than others a correlation further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Rutgers New Jersey Medical School study.

Credit: Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University

Academic stress takes a toll on the mental well-being of certain groups of college students more than others a correlation further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Rutgers New Jersey Medical School study.

 

Published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers found a significant correlation between perceived academic stress and poor mental well-being in all the students, but most acutely in those who are nonbinary, female or those who were in the second year of a four-year program.

 

“This study shows that college students are not uniformly impacted by academic stress or pandemic-related stress and that certain groups should be offered additional resources and support,” said study author Xue Ming, a professor of neurology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “The findings support prior studies that have shown that nonbinary adults face adverse mental health outcomes when compared to male- and female-identifying adults.”

 

According to the American Psychological Association, up to 87 percent of U.S. college students cite education as their primary source of stress arising from demanding course loads, studying, time management, classroom competition, financial concerns, family pressures and difficulty adapting to new environments but few studies have looked at how that stress directly affects mental health.

 

The study sought to determine if a relationship exists between college students’ perceived academic stress and their mental well-being, to identify groups that could experience varying levels of academic stress and mental health and to explore how the perception of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is affecting stress levels.

 

Researchers surveyed 843 college students between ages 18 and 30 in each academic year of study using questions from the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (SWEMWBS), which measures mental well-being and positive mental health, and questions from the Perception of Academic Stress Scale (PAS), which assesses sources of perceived academic stress and measures three main academic stressors: academic expectations; workload and examinations; and academic self-perceptions of students.

 

Nonbinary students reported the highest stress levels and worst psychological well-being, followed by female students. Both groups also reported higher COVID-19-related stress than males. Second-year students reported higher academic stress levels and worse mental well-being than students in other academic years. First-year students scored the best on the Perception of Academic Stress Scale, including stress resulting from COVID-19.

 

The researchers believe that second-year students as a group might be more affected by academic stress because they start taking more advanced courses, manage heavier academic workloads and explore different majors. Other factors could include increased studying and having less well-established social support networks and coping mechanisms compared with upperclass students.

 

“Colleges should consider offering tailored mental health resources to these groups to improve students’ stress levels and psychological well-being,” Ming said. “To raise awareness and destigmatize mental health, colleges can distribute confidential validated assessments, such as the PAS and SWEMWBS, in class and teach students to self-score so they can monitor their stress and mental well-being.”

 

The researchers also recommend colleges provide stress-management and coping strategies such as mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy as well as offer stress-reduction peer support groups to help build resilience.


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