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  • Today, we are off to Colorado,

  • where there's one of the biggest

  • coronavirus testing experiments there is.

  • A husband and wife team, Lou Reese and Mei Mei Hu,

  • happen to be executives at a biotech company

  • which is trying to test every single person

  • in San Miguel County in Colorado, which includes Telluride.

  • The company's also trying to develop

  • a vaccine for the virus,

  • so let's head out and talk to Lou and Mei Mei.

  • Your company makes vaccines for animals and for humans.

  • You've been working on a vaccine

  • for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

  • Yeah, so, if it were any other time, Ashlee,

  • you and I would be talking right now

  • about how we're gonna move forward

  • with our registrational trials

  • for Alzheimer's in the States, but instead,

  • today we're all hands-on deck on COVID.

  • You're in Telluride, it's part of San Miguel County,

  • and you have a test, a blood test,

  • and you're looking to test all 8,000 people

  • in San Miguel County, is that the basics?

  • Yeah, testing is such a big issue.

  • If you look at the countries

  • that have kind of dealt with this the best

  • is testing is one of the core principles.

  • And what it does is it brings knowledge.

  • A lot of the tests that we read about

  • in the news right now,

  • it's like the nasal swab and it's mostly looking at

  • do you have COVID-19 right now, in this moment.

  • But you have a blood test which shows

  • not only if you have it now,

  • but also if you've already had it

  • and developed antibodies against it.

  • So, antibody tests are what we use to screen blood banks,

  • for instance, it's the same type of technology.

  • So, people come in, they get their blood drawn.

  • Those all get collected,

  • and then those samples, those specimens,

  • get flown to labs to then process.

  • And then, the lab reports the results back to the county.

  • The idea is how do you screen

  • large swaths of populations quickly,

  • find and trace down the ones

  • that are potentially infected, to quarantine them,

  • and then also find the ones that have developed antibodies,

  • some level of immunity, and get them back out.

  • That's the trick.

  • You're in this part of Colorado that's super spread out.

  • I think there's like,

  • two and a half public health officials

  • for these 8,000 people.

  • So, it's tricky, right?

  • 'Cause I know they were looking for volunteers.

  • I mean, you have to teach people how to do a blood draw.

  • And so it played out pretty smoothly?

  • Has it been even harder than you thought, or?

  • One of the reasons why we did it here,

  • in San Miguel County was because

  • there's not even a hospital in San Miguel County.

  • But, the medical community here, and the EMTs,

  • knew what they were doing with the blood drawing component.

  • Also, we did it here because it's a visionary community,

  • and I think that the community saw what the opportunity was

  • to get the data, and it was hilarious

  • how awesome and supportive they've been.

  • You guys are doing this for free,

  • and paying for all these tests.

  • And then, I should add, it's voluntary.

  • It's not like people have to do this.

  • But do we know when, like,

  • what's your goal for how long this will take,

  • and how many people you'll get?

  • I think they've done a really good job

  • in terms of getting people through,

  • so, I think it's almost averaging like a thousand a day.

  • So, we should have results sometime next week,

  • and then we do it all over again.

  • Because you want to sort of test once,

  • and then test a couple of weeks later.

  • Yeah, because seroconversion,

  • which is what happens when your body

  • decides to develop antibodies, doesn't happen overnight.

  • It takes some time after your body's exposed to the virus

  • to be able to develop antibodies.

  • So, we want to be able to catch that.

  • That's why we want to wait at least 14 days between,

  • to make sure if someone has been infected

  • that they seroconverted, and we can identify it.

  • And then, so, you guys have a couple of things going on.

  • I mean, so not only are you doing this,

  • you also, back when SARS was a huge concern,

  • you've done vaccine work around that,

  • and so, it seems like you were pretty quickly able

  • to spin up some tests around a possible vaccine

  • here, for the novel coronavirus.

  • So, we've tested a number of different constructs.

  • We're actually looking at them right now.

  • They look pretty promising.

  • They're in animals.

  • And our hope is to get them into humans early summer.

  • Are we any closer to sort of knowing

  • when we'll get the data from the animal test?

  • It's still ongoing.

  • And then, Lou, not to put you on the spot,

  • but, I know you were saying that,

  • if the animal test came back, if the data came back good,

  • you would sort of think about

  • using the vaccine at that point, right, on a personal level?

  • I totally, no, not putting me on the spot at all.

  • I'm totally down as long as it doesn't damage

  • like its FDA path or anything like that.

  • Right now, we got a little bit of interim data,

  • and I would say they're one step closer

  • to having the one or two

  • that we'd like to pull the trigger on for human trials,

  • and I'm like first in line.

  • I'm before there's a line.

  • And so, you look at this data from the animal trials,

  • and then if it looks safe,

  • you can kind of progress immediately in the human trials?

  • Yeah, then it's really about

  • how the FDA wants to deal with these trials, right?

  • But these are emergency times, these are unprecedented.

  • So, all we know is that we're going to try to get

  • the best vaccine into humans right now, make sure it's safe.

  • And one of the benefits of our platform in our company

  • is that we have scaled up,

  • we have a commercially validated platform.

  • I think, scaling up and delivering

  • is gonna be just as difficult

  • as finding a really efficacious vaccine,

  • that can be distributed to the masses.

  • It's hard to keep track of all the different vaccines

  • and approaches that are being taken right now.

  • But how optimistic should people be?

  • 'Cause, I just don't want to give people false hope or,

  • I just want to set expectations in the right spot.

  • Yeah. So, the example that I give people is that,

  • remember a few years ago,

  • when we're reading about pigs that were dying in China,

  • by like the thousands and millions and stuff?

  • There was a mutation to foot and mouth disease.

  • And within a month of finding out,

  • then being charged with solving that,

  • we made 100 million brand new vaccines

  • to a brand-new strain, that worked, and solved the problem.

  • So, the answer is, these things can go really, really fast.

  • A lot of things have to work out together,

  • but I think there's going to be a lot of push to solve it.

  • Yeah. I mean, there's a ton of

  • different vaccines going on.

  • I mean, there's over 20 efforts

  • that are just listed right now,

  • and they're probably more efforts

  • that we don't even know about.

  • The good news is that

  • there are lots of people working on it,

  • and when you have lots of people working on it,

  • that means more shots on goal,

  • which means that you should feel good,

  • and hopeful that something will come out.

  • This is like a challenge for humanity.

  • I don't care if it's us,

  • I don't care if it's another company

  • with a different technology,

  • I just want it to work and be able to scale up,

  • and for us to get back to a new normal,

  • where we could still think about going out,

  • having 4th of July parties, having concerts and stuff.

  • So, I was just thinking about,

  • like when you get all the data from San Miguel County,

  • is that something you would, like sort of analyze yourself,

  • or is that something that goes up

  • on a website that everybody can see?

  • It's definitely all anonymized.

  • The people who are positive

  • are notified directly by the med center.

  • So, there will be quarantines, or like isolation,

  • based on who's infected, and then hopefully

  • the rest of the community can feel safer about coming out.

  • One thing that is weird, Ashlee,

  • that's strange about doing this,

  • it's one thing to deploy it in distant places,

  • even if you know those places really well,

  • it's another, when you're deploying it in like right there,

  • and everybody's like in it.

  • It's really amazing.

  • Well, thank you guys,

  • and I just really appreciate your time.

  • All right, thanks, Ashlee, appreciate it

  • Thanks, Ashlee, talk to you later.

Today, we are off to Colorado,

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