Up & Coming Weekly

August 04, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 10 of 24

10 UCW AUGUST 5-11, 2020 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JULIE HAVLAK, Carolina Journal News Service. COMMENTS? editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. NEWS Fayetteville Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area expanded by JEFF THOMPSON Fayetteville's Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area has been expanded for the first time in modern memory. e U.S. Office of Management and Budget recently announced that the Fayetteville metropolitan statistical area has been augmented to include Har- nett County. e MSA was originally comprised of Cumberland and Hoke counties. is change has increased the total Fayetteville MSA population to 526,719, up by nearly 30 percent. Ac- cording to the U.S. Census, Fayetteville is now ranked as the 108th largest MSA in the U.S. "Cumberland County plays a central role in southeast North Carolina. It is home to three major universities and a community college, as well as home to Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the world and home to the Woodpeckers, a Houston Astros affiliated Class A Advanced baseball team," said Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin. "We also have a solid workforce ... with much to offer those businesses that might choose to come to this region. As the sixth-larg- est city in the state, there is a deep connection between Fayetteville and the neighboring counties through commerce, employment, health care and leisure activities." Large companies often consider MSA size and workforce numbers in the search for new locations. ese factors are key in the early stages of site selec- tion, and for Fayetteville, this change re- inforces the community as a commerce center. Located on the I-95 corridor, this new data illustrates that Cumberland County is drawing workers from up to an hour away. "Fayetteville's MSA expan- sion will increase competitiveness for economic development projects and enhance the marketing and promotion of the region," said Andrew Pennink, chairman of Fayetteville Cumberland Economic De- velopment Corporation. e city and county regularly compete against larger MSAs when recruiting businesses that are looking to expand or relocate. is change will more accurately reflect the community's size and increase its chances of success. An MSA is a geographical zone with an urban center of 50,000 residents or more that has close economic ties throughout the adjacent counties. e OMB determines MSA size and mandates that each member county show 25 percent more of economic integration with the urban center. Increasing an MSA size can position a community to receive additional federal funding, increase the amount of economic information developed by private and nonprofit statistical agencies and raise the visibili- ty for national or multistate site selection searches. "We believe Cumberland County draws in more people than shown, and we are proactively participating in the protocol development for the next recalculation," said Marshall Faircloth, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. e United States Office of Management and Budget delineates metropolitan statistical areas according to published standards that are applied to census bureau data. e general concept of a metropolitan statisti- cal area is that of a core area containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communi- ties having a high degree of economic and social inte- gration with that core. Current metropolitan statistical area delineations were announced by OMB effective March 2020. JEFF THOMPSON, Reporter. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Large companies often consider MSA size and workforce numbers in the search for new locations. RTP company may have leg up on being first to market by JULIE HAVLAK If Novavax's coronavirus vac- cine gets approved, manufactur- ers in North Carolina hope to have millions of doses already prepared and immediately ready to immunize residents. Fujifilm Diosynth, a Japanese contract drug manufacturer, is making the main component of Novavax's potential coro- navirus vaccine in Research Triangle Park. e manufacturer is stockpiling vaccine ingredients to prepare for the day the vaccine could be approved, says Marin Meeson, CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth. e federal government has invested $1.6 billion in the little-known Maryland company Novavax — the largest deal yet from Operation Warp Speed, the federal push to mass produce coronavirus vaccines. e operation aims to make 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine available to the public by January. It has poured nearly $4 billion into six potential vaccines. If Novavax's vaccine proves successful, the federal government will own 100 million doses, enough to im- munize at least 50 million U.S. residents. "America will develop a vaccine very soon, we will defeat the virus. We'll have it delivered in record time," President Donald Trump said before touring Fujifilm Diosynth's facilities in North Carolina on Monday, July 28. According to the World Health Organization, Novavax is in an earlier phase of testing than at least seven of its competitors. Novavax's vaccine candidate is about to finish the first of three clinical trial phases. "We should have a considerable amount, multi millions of doses available by the time that the vaccine is proven effective," Meeson told Carolina Journal about the manufactur- ing process. He says his staff are doing the work of months in just weeks. In May, Novavax began testing the vaccine in 130 people, and researchers anticipate reporting the preliminary results by the end of July. ey expect to advance to Phase 2 in August, and to begin the final Phase 3 sometime in the fall. "is is being developed at warp speed," Novavax said. Across the world, researchers are chasing more than 164 COVID-19 vaccine candidates, but only 25 vac- cines are being tested in humans. Five vaccine projects are in the final phase of testing. Two of those five proj- ects are based in China, and another is tied to Britain and Sweden. An Australian company is also in the final stage of testing a tuberculosis vaccine to determine whether it can protect against the coronavirus. So far, Moderna is one of two U.S. companies to reach the final trial. Moderna this week launched its final trial to enroll 30,000 people across the county. e Trump admin- istration has also struck an agreement with Pfizer, a company based in New York City working with compa- nies based in Germany and China. Pfizer began its third trial Monday, July 27. Experts hope Novavax offers a faster way to manu- facture coronavirus vaccines. Moderna's candidate re- lies on fragile RNA molecules, and it must be stored in sub-zero temperatures — complicating rollout in rural areas and scattered populations. Novavax declined to comment on the storage of its vaccine candidate. Novavax hopes to provoke an immune response with coronavirus proteins. Fujifilm Diosynth makes coronavirus proteins by using moth cells as factories. is offers a quicker way to mass produce vaccines than the mammal cells employed by normal vaccines. is could save critical time in vaccine distribution, says Meeson. "It is a few days shorter, the process. Once we start ramping up the manufacturing, it will be an advan- tage for us," Meeson said. "You need to grow the cells, the virus, and that takes time. When that's a little bit quicker, that means we can do more. … It's not a mas- sive difference, but it certainly will help." e federal investment marked a dramatic change in Novavax's fortunes. A year ago, the company was fight- ing financial collapse. One of its major vaccine candi- dates failed twice in three years. e company sold off its manufacturing facilities, and its stock fell so low that it risked being taken off the NASDAQ electronic stock exchange, reported the New York Times. After 33 years of business, Novavax has never brought a vaccine to market, the Times reported. If researchers can develop a vaccine by the end of the year, or within a 12- to 18-month timeline, it will shatter the normal timeline to develop vaccines. "It's normally nine to 12 months before we'd start making products at this level, and we've started this process in a matter of weeks," Meeson said. President Trump, foreground, and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar visit the Fujifilm Diosynth facility in Research Triangle Park July 27, 2020. (White House photo)

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