In the past few weeks, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has spread at a rapid rate in most areas of the United States and the world. The situation has caused an alarming number of deaths and massive human suffering. From an economic perspective, it’s also caused many industries to slow. And with social distancing and preventative measures in full force, we all feel the impact on our everyday lives. Paul Ognibene, CEO of Cambridge-based Urban Spaces, notes that while the COVID-19 crisis has devastating implications, it’s worth highlighting that there has been a great deal of ingenuity and altruism throughout the state.
Ognibene pointed out that the life science industry of Massachusetts has made great strides in furthering its understanding of the virus and facilitating relief efforts for those most affected by the pandemic. For example, Cambridge-based Moderna Therapeutics quickly developed a vaccine called mRNA-1273 which entered Phase 1 of its clinical trial in Seattle on March 16. Moderna, in collaboration with the Vaccine Research Center, and has enrolled 45 individuals between 18 and 45 years of age to test the efficacy and viability of the vaccine. Although vaccine trials take time to prove that they are safe enough for widespread distribution, it is hopeful that the Moderna vaccine will show promise in the testing phase.
The spirit of altruism within the Massachusetts community during this time has been encouraging. For example, biotech company Biogen in Cambridge has committed $10 million for relief efforts including training and food for health care professionals working so diligently throughout the crisis. Biogen’s CEO Michel Vounatsos acknowledged that supporting the front-line medical workers and other at-risk populations during is of extreme importance. Vulnerable communities are also receiving much-needed assistance via the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, which has an initial funding of $13 million and is currently accepting donations. Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker has stated that the goal of the fund, which is administered by Eastern Bank, is to assist the most vulnerable members of communities within the state who have been hit particularly hard by the crisis. Ognibene notes that the fund reflects the generous and compassionate spirit of the state’s residents.