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The Food Crisis Of 2023 Is Going To Be Far Worse Than Most People Would Dare To Imagine

The Food Crisis Of 2023 Is Going To Be Far Worse Than Most People Would Dare To Imagine

Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com,

I…

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The Food Crisis Of 2023 Is Going To Be Far Worse Than Most People Would Dare To Imagine

Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com,

I am trying to sound the alarm about this as loudly as I can.  The global food crisis just continues to intensify, and things are going to get really bad in 2023.  As you will see below, two-thirds of European fertilizer production has already been shut down, currency problems are causing massive headaches for poor nations that need to import food, global weather patterns continue to be completely crazy, and the bird flu is killing millions upon millions of chickens and turkeys all over the planet.  On top of everything else, the war in Ukraine is going to restrict the flow of agricultural and fertilizer exports from that part of the world for a long time to come, because there is no end to the war in sight.  In essence, we are facing a “perfect storm” for global food production, and that “perfect storm” is only going to get worse in the months ahead.

Global hunger has been on the rise for years, and the UN World Food Program is warning that we are heading for “yet another year of record hunger”

The world is at risk of yet another year of record hunger as the global food crisis continues to drive yet more people into worsening levels of severe hunger, warns the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in a call for urgent action to address the root causes of today’s crisis ahead of World Food Day on October 16.

The global food crisis is a confluence of competing crises – caused by climate shocks, conflict and economic pressures – that has pushed the number of severely hungry people around the world from 282 million to 345 million in just the first months of 2022. The U.N. World Food Programme scaled up food assistance targets to reach a record 153 million people in 2022, and by mid-year had already delivered assistance to 111.2 million people.

But as I have consistently warned, this is only just the beginning.

Eventually, there will be billions of people that don’t have enough to eat on a regular basis.

In all my years, I have never seen hunger spread so rapidly.  In fact, there are large numbers of people that are now facing starvation in the backyard of the United States

The United Nations is warning that hunger in one of Haiti’s biggest slums is at catastrophic levels, as gang violence and economic crises push the country to “breaking point”.

Nearly 20,000 people in the capital’s impoverished Cité Soleil area have dangerously little access to food and could face starvation, the UN says,

Across Haiti, almost five million are struggling with malnutrition.

“Haiti is facing a humanitarian catastrophe,” a top UN official said.

But most people in the western world won’t care until they are going hungry themselves.

Unfortunately, that day may be a lot closer than a lot of people ever imagined.

Right now, a whopping two-thirds of all fertilizer production capacity in Europe has already been shut down because of the skyrocketing price of natural gas…

Europe’s fertilizer crunch is deepening with more than two-thirds of production capacity halted by soaring gas costs, threatening farmers and consumers far beyond the region’s borders.

Russia’s squeeze on gas shipments in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is hurting industries across Europe. But fertilizer companies are being especially affected because gas is both a key feedstock and a source of power for the sector.

There simply will not be enough fertilizer for European farmers in 2023.

And there won’t be enough for everyone else that depends on fertilizer production from Europe.

This is a really big deal, because without fertilizer we would only be able to feed approximately half the planet.

Do you want to volunteer to be among those that don’t get enough food?

Meanwhile, the surging U.S. dollar is causing immense headaches for food importers all over the world…

In Ghana, importers are warning about shortages in the run up to Christmas. Thousands of containers loaded with food recently piled up at ports in Pakistan, while private bakers in Egypt raised bread prices after some flour mills ran out of wheat because it was stranded at customs.

Around the world, countries that rely on food imports are grappling with a destructive combination of high interest rates, a soaring dollar and elevated commodity prices, eroding their power to pay for goods that are typically priced in the greenback. Dwindling foreign-currency reserves in many cases has reduced access to dollars, and banks are slow in releasing payments.

The value of the U.S. dollar has been spiking because the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates.

When the value of the dollar goes up, poor countries have to pay a lot more for food in their own local currencies.

So the Federal Reserve is actually making the global food crisis worse by hiking rates.

But they are going to keep doing it anyway.

At the same time, global weather patterns continue to go completely haywire.

This summer we witnessed the worst drought in Chinese history, Europe endured the worst drought in 500 years, and the western U.S. continued to suffer through the worst multi-year megadrought in at least 1,200 years.

Needless to say, all of this drought is absolutely devastating agricultural production.

According to the Washington Post, “more than 80 percent of the U.S. is facing troubling dry conditions” right now.  In the middle of the country, this has caused a horrific crisis for barge traffic along the Mississippi River…

The barge industry is quite important. It’s crucial for moving aluminum, petroleum, fertilizer and coal, particularly on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. About 60% of the grain and 54% of the soybeans for U.S. export are moved via the noble barge. Barges touch more than a third of our exported coal as well.

Right now the barge industry — and all of us who depend on its wares — is mired in a crisis. Water levels on the Mississippi River Basin are at its lowest point in more than a decade.

Last week, approximately 2,000 barges were struck at one point.

Sadly, very dry conditions are expected “over the next several weeks”, and so things are not likely to get better any time soon…

Low water levels and dredging shuttered barge traffic heading north and south on the Mississippi last week. At one point, more than 100 towboats and 2,000 barges were stuck waiting. The blocked-off section of the river, between Louisiana and Mississippi, reopened Monday. Traffic is limited to one way, according to Petty Officer Jose Hernandez of the U.S. Coast Guard.

That’s certainly better than zero-way traffic, but the Mississippi is still expected to become even more parched. Lisa Parker, a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told FreightWaves that drier conditions are expected over the next several weeks. The river is slurping up water reserves right now, Parker added, but those reserves will eventually run out.

As a result of this crisis, rates to move goods by barge have gone through the roof, and we could ultimately see massive amounts of agricultural produce rot before it can get to consumers

Since many barges are stuck and cannot move at all, barge prices are reportedly hyperinflating. As of this writing, the highest USD per ton price shown is $90.44. Prior to the massive spike, it was under $10 to move a ton of goods.

The vast majority of the now-stranded bean piles and other farm goods were intended for major export terminals in the Gulf of Mexico. While at least some of them appear to be covered and ventilated, how long will they really last before spoiling?

On another note, we continue to see crabs die off at a staggering rate.

In fact, it is now being reported that the winter harvest of snow crab in Alaska has been suspended because the crab population has experienced a catastrophic decline

Alaska officials have canceled several crab harvests in a conservation effort that sent shock waves through the crabbing industry in the region.

Officials canceled the fall Bristol Bay red king crab harvest and, for the first time on record, are also holding off on the winter harvest of snow crab, according to multiple reports.

The decision comes after stark recent population declines of the animals. Data from an NOAA eastern Bering Sea survey shows a 92% decline in overall snow crab abundance from 2018 to 2021, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game confirmed to USA TODAY. An 83% decline occurred from 2018 to 2022, as some small crab entered the population in 2022, according to the department’s Division of Commercial Fisheries.

And thanks to the global bird flu pandemic, birds continue to die in staggering numbers as well.

If you can believe it, nearly 100 million chickens and turkeys have already been wiped out during this pandemic in the United States and Europe alone, and experts are warning that this pandemic will only intensify now that cold weather is arriving.

Those of you that have been to the grocery store lately already know that egg prices, chicken prices and turkey prices have surged to absolutely crazy levels.  At this point, prices are so high that one recent survey found that one out of every four Americans plans to skip Thanksgiving this year in order to save money

One in five Americans are unsure if they will be able to cover the costs of Thanksgiving this year, and one in four plan to skip it to save money, a recent Personal Capital survey found.

The state of economic affairs in President Joe Biden’s America is affecting Americans’ holiday plans. According to the survey, one quarter of Americans are planning to skip Thanksgiving this year to save money, and one in five “doubted they would have enough money to cover the costs of Thanksgiving this year.”

More specifically, one-third expect their 2022 Thanksgiving dinner to be “smaller,” and 45 percent, overall, said they are “finically stressed” by Thanksgiving.

Yes, things are already that bad.

But according to Joe Biden, everything is just fine.  In fact, he says that “our economy is strong as hell”

The comment came during a conversation with a reporter at a Baskin Robbins in Portland, Oregon, who asked the president if he had any worry about the strength of the U.S. dollar amid rising inflation.

With a chocolate chip ice cream cone in his hand, Biden answered: “I’m not concerned about the strength of the dollar. I’m concerned about the rest of the world. Our economy is strong as hell.”

You believe him, don’t you?

Our leaders would have us believe that all of the problems that we are facing right now are just temporary and that a golden new age of peace and prosperity is just around the corner.

But if that is true, why are they so eager to have us eat bugs?

A tremendous amount of time, energy and resources is being put behind a campaign to promote insects as one of the solutions to the rapidly growing global food crisis.

But I don’t plan to eat bugs, and I am sure that you don’t either.

Unfortunately, there isn’t going to be nearly enough food for everyone on the planet in 2023, and millions upon millions of deeply suffering individuals will soon be desperately hungry.

They can push bug eating all they want, but that isn’t going to fix our problems.  Right now, they have absolutely no solutions that will prevent large numbers of people from starving to death during the difficult years that are in front of us.

*  *  *

It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/20/2022 - 07:20

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Weekly Digest – December 16, 2022

Friday, December 16, 2022Volume 3, Issue 59 Quote of the Week “Remember that you must behave as at a banquet. Is anything brought round to you? Put…

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Friday, December 16, 2022
Volume 3, Issue 59


Quote of the Week

“Remember that you must behave as at a banquet. Is anything brought round to you? Put out your hand and take a moderate share. Does it pass by you? Do not stop it. Is it not yet come? Do not yearn in desire toward it, but wait till it reaches you. So with regard to children, wife, office, riches; and you will some time or other be worthy to feast with the gods. And if you do not so much as take the things which are set before you, but are able even to forego them, then you will not only be worthy to feast with the gods, but to rule with them also. For, by thus doing, Diogenes and Heraclitus, and others like them, deservedly became divine, and were so recognized.”

— Epictetus, The Enchiridion, 15


Fortune Cookies

Fortune cookies are entertaining because they come with a vague statement that can often be interpreted positively. But they are usually not to be taken seriously. This is why I find myself annoyed when I read “fortune cookies” on Twitter that provide vapid advice claiming to make inherently difficult things easy to accomplish. 

Since we are approaching the end of the year when many people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions, I thought that I would provide eight (hopefully) higher quality “fortune cookies” of my own that took many years to figure out. 

  • Almost nothing worthwhile can be achieved without considerable effort. If you want something, be prepared to work very hard to get it.
  • If you hate your job, find a different one or switch to a different career. If you are still young, “retirement” is almost certainly a mistake. Find something that you are good at and enjoy doing and then commit to it wholeheartedly. 
  • Commit to reading 25 pages per day. That is over 9,000 pages per year and will put you at the very top in terms of attainment of wisdom, provided that you read with purpose. While difficult at first, it will get easier in time. Eventually, it will be very difficult to not read on a daily basis. Such days will feel incomplete.
  • Start a journal. Writing for fifteen minutes every morning can make a big difference in setting the tone for the day and keeping your goals on track.
  • Avoid hatred at all costsHatred leads to disaster and harms the person doing the hating more than the target of hatred. Instead of falling into hatred, disassociate from toxic people, especially in cases of lies and deception.
  • Be kind to others, especially those who through no fault of their own have been dealt a bad hand. But never allow someone to take advantage of your kindness. Provide a helping hand, not a handout, and never facilitate dysfunctional behavior. Cut people out of your life who are only interested in money.
  • Avoid envy. The people you see on social media who appear to have “perfect lives” almost certainly do not. Many are secretly miserable and hide behind beautiful fictions posted on social media to fool themselves as well as others.
  • Do not confuse frugality with cheapness. Default to generosity when it makes sense. Being cheap when it comes to health and well-being is stupid, and the same is true for intellectual pursuits. Books distill thousands of hours of the author’s time for the cost of a restaurant meal or less. Never budget for books.

These might be “fortune cookies”, but they could actually make a positive impact even though none are necessarily easy to implement. I can say that all of these concepts have helped me despite taking years or, in some cases decades, to really figure out.


Articles

Consoles and Competition by Ben Thompson, December 12, 2022. This article provides over forty years of history of the video game industry before analyzing the FTC’s attempt to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. As someone who is not familiar with the intricacies of this case, I found the lengthy discussion of the industry’s history very valuable since it provides necessary context. “For the record, I do believe this acquisition demands careful overview, and it’s completely appropriate to insist that Microsoft continue to deliver Activision titles to other platforms, even if it wouldn’t make economic sense to do anything but. It’s increasingly difficult, though, to grasp any sort of coherent theory to the FTC’s antitrust decisions beyond ‘big tech bad’.” (Stratechery)

Sea Change by Howard Marks, December 13, 2022. In this memo, Howard Marks points out that forty years of declining interest rates represented a major tailwind for investors. He likens falling interest rates to a moving walkway in an airport. Just as moving walkways make life easier for weary travelers, falling interest rates act as an assist for investors. However, this secular decline in interest rates appears to be at an end which represents a sea change in the investment landscape. Investors need to be aware that the strategies that worked well over the past forty years may not lead to outperformance in the future. (Oaktree Capital)

The California Effect by Mr. Money Mustache, December 10, 2022. The cost of living is famously high in the San Francisco Bay Area where Mr. Money Mustache recently spent a few days observing the attitudes of people with very different approaches to spending money. The reality is that even in the most expensive regions, spending excessively is always a choice, not an inevitable mandate. “San Francisco professionals live in a place where 25-year-old tech workers enjoy $200,000 starting salaries, yet still have credit card debt and car loans, and they think that is normal.” (Mr. Money Mustache)

The College Essay Is Dead by Stephen Marche, December 6, 2022. Will artificial intelligence kill the college essay? Anyone who has played with ChatGPT, a new AI tool that recently opened to the public, might be asking the question which this article explores. I admit to being a little baffled about the handwringing. After all, when I was in college three decades ago, we took exams using technology no more advanced than blue books and a pen or pencil. AI might help students cheat on work done outside the classroom, but you cannot fake your way through an exam where there is no technology other than paper and a writing implement. (The Atlantic)

Ideas That Changed My Life by Morgan Housel, December 7, 2022. Among other topics, Morgan Housel makes an excellent case for reading. Otherwise, your personal experiences will excessively influence your perception of how the world works. “Your personal experiences make up maybe 0.00000001% of what’s happened in the world but maybe 80% of how you think the world works. People believe what they’ve seen happen exponentially more than what they read about has happened to other people, if they read about other people at all. We’re all biased to our own personal history.” (Collaborative Fund)

Thankfully, Life Is Full of Problems by Lawrence Yeo, December 7, 2022. I was reminded of Viktor Frankl when I read this article. Frankl held that people gain a sense of purpose not through a tensionless state but by struggling and striving toward a personally meaningful goal. Lawrence Yeo makes a similar case. What we must do is to “upgrade” from dealing with meaningless problems to a focus on addressing “heavyweight” problems. (More to That)

The Gift of Time by Nick Maggiulli, December 13, 2022. Almost everyone thinks about money in terms of goods or services it can buy. But money is really the gift of time: “Because everything I write isn’t really about money, it’s about time. Time with your loved ones. Time to enjoy yourself. Time to live the life you want. In the end, all of your money will be converted back to time anyways. If not now, then later. And if not by you, then by someone else. Possibly after you’re gone.” (Of Dollars and Data)

Be Wary of Imitating High-Status People Who Can Afford to Countersignal by Rob Henderson, December 11, 2022. This article argues that we should avoid emulating people who have achieved status far above ours, and instead look to those who are just somewhat ahead of us. People with very high status can afford to exhibit unusual behavior. For example, a famous author doesn’t need to use Twitter personally to surface his writing because his fans will do this for him. That’s not the case for most authors seeking wider distribution of their work. (Rob Henderson’s Newsletter)

How Neuroscience Confirms the Most Ancient Myths About Music by Ted Gioia, December 12, 2022. Music has a tremendous capacity to influence our lives as listeners, often putting us into flow states conducive to productivity. For example, I often listen to The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s performance at Carnegie Hall in 1963 when I want to get serious work done. For musicians, performing can induce an even deeper flow state, as Ted Gioia describes: “In the midst of an intense performance, the music seemed to be playing itself.” This article on music and neuroscience is part of a book being published in installments on Substack. (The Honest Broker)


Podcasts

Tom Gayner Discusses the Evolution of Markel, December 14, 2022. 56 minutes. This is a wide-ranging interview covering topics including Berkshire Hathaway’s recent investment in Markel, the growth of Markel Ventures in the context of the company’s overall capital allocation strategy, the use of leverage, and how investing during the pandemic was more challenging than the financial crisis. (Boyar Value Group)

The Essays of Warren Buffett, January 20, 2022. 1 hour, 58 minutes. According to Lawrence Cunningham’s newsletter, which you can sign up for here, the sixth edition of his compilation of Warren Buffett’s shareholder letters will be released early next year. I have the first and second editions and highly recommend the book. While all of the letters are available on Berkshire’s website, the compilation is organized by topic and adds significant value. In this podcast, David Senra provides his enthusiastic commentary about what he took away from this book. (Founder’s Podcast)

Master of Precision: Henry Leland Founder of Cadillac, May 31, 2020. 1 hour, 10 minutes. I think Steve Jobs and Henry Leland had much in common in terms of insisting on high quality and viewing their role as craftsmen, paying obsessive attention to details. “There always was and there always will be conflict between Good and Good Enough. In opening up a new business one can count on meeting resistance to a high standard of workmanship. It is easy to get cooperation for mediocre work, but one must sweat blood for a chance to produce a superior product. —Henry Leland” (Founders Podcast)

DoorDash: Looking for Profitable Routes, December 14, 2022. “DoorDash was founded in 2013 by four Stanford students, who saw an opportunity to make it easier for people to get the food they love delivered to them. Today, DoorDash’s three-sided marketplace serves as one of the largest local delivery companies in the world, serving millions of customers and partnering with hundreds of thousands of restaurants across 27 countries, run rating at over $50 billion of gross merchandise value.” (Business Breakdowns)


Twitter Threads

This is a brief thread on the importance of reading. It is based on The Use of Letters, a journal entry I wrote early last year. Why would anyone voluntarily limit their understanding of the world to just their own direct experiences?

Checking quotes frequently is counterproductive. There is too much noise in quotes when checked on a daily basis and doing so is likely to make most investors miserable.

The origin story of the Eiffel Tower:


A Shepherd and His Flock in Winter

From Wikipedia:

Frederick Ferdinand Schafer (August 16, 1839 – July 18, 1927) was a German-born American painter. He was born in Braunschweig, Germany and he emigrated to the United States in 1876, at age 37. 

Schafer’s paintings, which mostly depict landscape scenes in California and other western states, are dated between 1873 and 1911. There are many scenes of Yosemite National Park included in a catalog of his paintings. As the weather turns colder, I thought that this scene of an unknown location captures the season quite well.

A Shepherd and His Flock in Winter, Frederick Ferdinand Schafer (public domain)

Here is a description of this painting by Jerome H. Saltzer, Professor of Computer Science Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

“This painting might be described as luminist in style. Paintings such as this one may be the basis for the suggestion that Schafer’s later work was lighter, but the shortage of dated paintings makes it difficult to confirm that suggestion.”


Copyright and Disclaimer

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Your privacy is taken very seriously. No email addresses or any other subscriber information is ever sold or provided to third parties. If you choose to unsubscribe at any time, you will no longer receive any further communications of any kind.

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FDA advisory committee votes unanimously in favor of a one-shot COVID-19 vaccine approach – 5 questions answered

Many questions remain about next steps for US vaccine policy. But the FDA advisory panel’s hearty endorsement of a single-composition COVID-19 vaccine…

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The FDA advisory committee discussed vaccine safety, effectiveness of the current shots, potential seasonality of COVID-19 and more. wildpixel/iStock via Getty Images Plus

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s key science advisory panel, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, met on Jan. 26, 2023, to chart a path forward for COVID-19 vaccine policy. During the all-day meeting, the 21-member committee discussed an array of weighty issues including the efficacy of existing vaccines, the composition of future vaccine strains and the need to match them to the circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2, the possibility of moving to an annual-shot model, the potential seasonality of the virus and much more.

But the key question at hand, and the only formal question that was voted on, following a proposal from the FDA earlier in the week, had to do with how to simplify the path to getting people vaccinated.

The Conversation asked immunologist Matthew Woodruff, who has been on the front lines of studying immune responses to COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic, to walk us through the big questions of the day and what they mean for future COVID-19 vaccine strategies.

What exactly did the advisory committee vote on?

The question put before the committee for a vote was whether to move to one COVID-19 vaccine consisting of a single composition for all people – whether currently vaccinated or not – and away from the current model that includes one formulation given as a primary series and a separate formulation administered as a booster. Importantly, approved formulations could come from any number of vaccine manufacturers, not just those that have currently authorized vaccines.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently requires that the primary series of shots, or the first two doses of the vaccine that a patient receives, consist of the first generation of vaccine against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, known as the “Wuhan” strain of the virus. These shots are given weeks apart, followed months later by a booster shot that was updated in August 2022 to contain a bivalent formulation of vaccine that targets both the original viral strain and newer subvariants of omicron.

The committee’s endorsement simplifies those recommendations. In a 21-to-0 vote, the advisory board recommended fully replacing, or “harmonizing,” the original formulation of the vaccine with a single shot that would consist of – at least for now – the current bivalent vaccine.

In doing so, it has signaled its belief that these new second-generation vaccines are an upgrade over their predecessors in protecting from infection and severe illness at this point in the pandemic.

If the FDA panel’s recommendation is endorsed by the CDC, only a single composition of vaccine – in this case, the updated bivalent shot – will be used for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Will the single shot remain a mixed-strain, or bivalent, vaccine?

For now, the single shot will be bivalent. But this may not always be the case.

There was a general agreement that the current bivalent shot is preferable to the original vaccine targeted at the Wuhan strain of the virus by itself. But committee members debated whether that original Wuhan vaccine strain should continue to be a part of updated vaccine formulations.

There is no current data comparing a monovalent, or single-strain, vaccine that targets omicron and its subvariants against the current bivalent shot. As a result, it’s unclear how a monovalent shot against recent omicron subvariants would perform in comparison to the bivalent version.

What is immune imprinting, and how does it apply here?

A main reason for the debate over monovalent versus bivalent – or, for that matter, trivalent or tetravalent – vaccines is a lack of understanding around how best to sharpen an immune response to a slightly altered threat. This has long been a debate surrounding annual influenza vaccination strategies, where studies have shown that the immune “memory” that forms in response to a prior vaccine can actively repress a robust immune response to the next.

This phenomenon of immune imprinting, originally coined in 1960 as “original antigenic sin,” has been a topic of debate both within the advisory committee and within the broader immunological community.

Although innovative strategies are being developed to overcome potential problems with routinely updated vaccines, they are not yet ready to be tested in humans. In the meantime, it is unclear how bivalent versus monovalent vaccine choices might alter this phenomenon, and it is very clear that more study is needed.

Is the committee considering only mRNA vaccines?

While a significant portion of the discussion focused on the mRNA vaccine platform used by both Pfizer and Moderna, several committee members emphasized the need for new technologies that could provide broader immunological protection. Dr. Pamela McInnes, a now-retired longtime deputy director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, highlighted this point, saying, “I would make a plea for ongoing research on broader protection, maybe different platforms, maybe a different approach.”

A good deal of attention was also directed toward Novavax, a protein-based formulation that relies on a more traditional approach to vaccination than the mRNA-based vaccines. Although the Novavax vaccine has been authorized by the FDA for use since July 2022, it has received much less national attention – largely because of its latecomer status. Nonetheless, Novavax has boasted efficacy rates on par with its mRNA cousins, with good safety profiles and less demanding long-term storage requirements than the mRNA shots.

By simplifying the vaccine schedule to include only a single vaccine formulation, the committee reasoned, it might be easier for competing vaccination platforms to break into the market. In other words, newer vaccine contenders would not have to rely on patients’ having already received their primary series before using their products. Companies seemed ready to take advantage of that future flexibility, with researchers from Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax all revealing their companies’ exploration of a hybrid COVID-19 and flu shot at various stages of clinical trials and testing.

Would the single shot resemble flu vaccine development?

Not necessarily. Currently, the influenza vaccine is decided by committee through the World Health Organization. Because of its seasonal nature, the strains to be included in each season’s flu vaccine strain for the Southern and Northern hemispheres, with their opposing winters, are selected independently. The Northern Hemisphere’s selection is made in February for the following winter based on a vast network of flu monitoring stations around the globe.

Although there was broad consensus among panelists that the shots against SARS-CoV-2 should be updated regularly to more closely match the most current circulating viral strain, there was less agreement on how frequent that would be.

For instance, rapidly mutating strains of the virus in both summer and winter surges might necessitate two updated shots a year instead of just one. As Dr. Eric Rubin, an infectious disease expert from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, noted, “It’s hard to say that it’s going to be annual at this point.”

Matthew Woodruff receives funding from the National Institute of Health and the US Department of Defense to support his academic research.

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Government

Novavax gets ready to take another shot at Covid vaccine market with next season plans

While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine…

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While mRNA took center stage at yesterday’s FDA vaccine advisory committee meeting, Novavax announced its plans to deliver an updated protein-based vaccine based on new guidance.

Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) members voted unanimously in favor of “harmonizing” Covid vaccine compositions, meaning all future vaccine recipients would receive a bivalent vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve gotten their primary series.

As Mark Sawyer, pediatrics professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, put it: “Bivalent is better. Simple is better.”

However, bivalent doesn’t have to mean mRNA, said Pamela McInnes, a temporary voting member and retired deputy director of the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

“I want to urge making plays for other platforms,” she said. “mRNA has been fantastic. They can produce it really, really quickly. But it may not give us the breadth of coverage, which is really what I think our problem is right now. We know we induce really good neutralizing antibody with mRNA vaccines, but it seems to be pretty short-lived.”

In July, now-retired NIAID Director Anthony Fauci called for “innovative approaches” against “coronaviruses known and unknown,” such as pan-coronavirus candidates and mucosal options that can be administered intranasally. Nuvaxovid won the FDA’s emergency use authorization back that same month, becoming the first protein-based Covid vaccine available in the US, after Novavax suffered delay after delay for its EUA filing.

However, sales have been lackluster. The vaccine earned $626 million in Q3, leading CEO Stanley Erck to drop his full-year sales guidance to the lower end of a $2 billion to $2.3 billion range previously projected in Q2.

On Thursday, Novavax CMO Filip Dubovsky said during the VRBPAC meeting that the company is prepared to deliver “either a monovalent or a bivalent vaccine for the 2023-2024 vaccination season based on guidance from the FDA.”

“Our recommendation is that the regulatory bodies and manufacturers move to an influenza-like model, where strain recommendations are made by the end of the first quarter,” he continued.

Silvia Taylor

The company also presented data suggesting a homologous booster dose of their vaccine administered eight to 11 months after the primary vaccine series resulted in similar antibody levels compared to the company’s previous Phase III trials.

“Offering vaccine choices — and ensuring continuous access to those choices — must be at the center of any strategy to protect public health against COVID-19,” executive VP and chief communications officer Silvia Taylor said in an emailed statement.

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