The Coachella of capitalism is back.
After repeatedly postponing its flagship event last year, the Milken Institute announced Thursday its Milken Institute Global Conference will return this fall to a fully in-person event from October 17-20 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The conference normally takes place in May but as a crucial source of revenue to the non-profit organization – with ticket packages in the thousands of dollars and lucrative sponsorships – organizers did not want to wait another year to convene.
"We also look forward to the spring of 2022, when we will convene for the 25th annual Global Conference and expand on the issues discussed in October," Michael Klowden, CEO of the Milken Institute said in a statement. "The past year drove us to reflect on how we live, what we believe, and what matters most."
The gathering normally attracts 4,000 attendees from more than 70 countries to the Beverly Hilton to hear from luminaries from the worlds of finance, politics and medicine. Milken has a full-time staff of about 25 working on the conference year round and another 100 who pitch in once the date gets closer.
Even with vaccinations now open to anyone 16 years or older in California, many have expressed skepticism about returning to conferences after a year of social distancing and Zoom meetings. Almost half of respondents in the dot.LA VC Sentiment Survey said they do not think they want to go to a conference until the first half of next year.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said California will fully reopen June 15, as long as vaccines are available to anyone.Vox Media's Code Conference also announced it will return in-person this Fall in Beverly Hills and that event will be held even earlier than Milken's, in September.
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Last month, Lupe Duarte read an announcement from her colleagues that City of Hope was recruiting for a COVID-19 vaccine trial. The mother of three, who also cares for her infirm parents, volunteered immediately.
This afternoon the 48-year old project manager became the first patient to get a dose of the vaccine developed by a team of researchers at City of Hope.
She's part of the biotech institution's phase 1 trial, which tests a drug's safety typically over one to two years. The process is likely to last just three months as regulators speed up approval to deal with the pandemic. The next stage, expected to span about eight months, would test on more volunteers and further assess safety and efficacy.
City of Hope is one of only a handful of Southern California organizations that are working on a vaccine. Their shot will require two doses and must be stored about 60 degrees below celsius, but the team is looking into whether it can be freeze dried and stored at room temperature.
"I think a lot of people still fear the clinical trial aspect," said Duarte, who is expecting a few check-in calls this weekend and plans to visit the clinic for regular blood samples. "There is no doubt in my mind that this is safe for me."
Duarte is no stranger to the trial process. She's worked in clinical research since 1996, beginning with prostate and lung cancer studies. Over this next year, as Duarte is monitored and observed for side effects to the vaccine, she'll experience clinical trials as a patient instead.
"If I'm healthy and I'm eligible and I get to participate, why shouldn't I?" she said. "I get to help others, like our cancer patients have done over the years."
She wants more people of color and Latinos, who have been especially hard hit in the pandemic, to participate in clinical trials.
Across the country, an estimated 237 biotech companies and research labs have joined the race to develop their own vaccinations as pharmaceutical giants prepare for the first wave of mass distributions. Just 38 of those, including the vaccine from City of Hope, have started clinical testing.
Very few companies will pull it off. Over 90% of clinical trials fail, said Esther Krofah, executive director of the Milken Institute's FasterCures. Her team has tracked vaccine makers since March, when just a couple dozen companies had entered phase 1 trials.
"We need to make sure we have incentives for second and third generation vaccines, to get as many of them over the finish line," she said. "The goal would be to have a handful or more that can meet the global demand."
Krofah said factors like temperature storage matter most when it comes time to distribute. But some vaccines in development do have a leg up, she said, including those requiring just a single dose.
"Those are very hopeful in that you might be able to scale without the burden of somebody coming back twice," she said.
Don J. Diamond, a City of Hope professor and vaccine researcher, said his team received the Federal Drug Association's go-ahead to start human trials for the vaccine a few weeks ago. Their vaccine utilizes a synthetic platform technology called an MVA to trigger the immune system by stimulating antibodies and T cells.
Duarte and her five siblings rotate as caretakers for their mother, who is bed-bound and immunocompromised. Her father was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. The vaccination gives her some sense of relief that she won't put her parents at risk.
"Cancer doesn't stop," she said by Zoom, hours before she would drive from her home in Glendora to the clinic in Duarte. "We still have to continue taking care of our parents."
In 28 days, Duarte will be back for her second dose.
Here are the latest headlines regarding how the novel coronavirus is impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.
- Los Angeles heads into week after largest one-day increase in COVID-19 deaths
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- Skip grocery shopping this week, L.A. health officials warn as they prepare for onslaught
Officials urge residents to skip shopping this week as deaths climb to 147, cases to 6,300
Bracing for a wave of coronavirus cases, Los Angeles county health officials asked people to skip shopping this week. The plea case as the fast-moving COVID-19 claimed another 15 people, bringing total deaths to 147 in the county. So far county health officials have logged 6,360 cases of COVID-19 with 420 new ones reported on Monday.
"We will see many more cases over the next few weeks," said Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director during a daily press conference. "If you have enough supplies in your home, this would be the week to skip shopping altogether. if you can arrange for medications and groceries to be delivered, this would be the week to put this in place. "
Ferrer also said she's encouraging grocery stores and pharmacies to offer free delivery services for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions because they have such a high risk of dying from COVID-19
She urged the elderly and those at high risk to not go out except for medical appointments. "There is a lot of virus circulating in our community and you are not safe if you go out," she said.
Ferrer said last week that she expected new cases to jump to about 1,000 a day in the coming weeks.
Milken Global Conference postponed againupload.wikimedia.org
The Milken Institute announced Monday it was again pushing back the 2020 Milken Institute Global Conference, to October 12-15, 2020.
It is another indication of how rapidly circumstances have changed over the last few weeks. Less than a month ago, Milken said the conference would be moved to July. It was originally scheduled to take place in May.
The gathering, which attracts 4,000 attendees from more than 70 countries to Beverly Hills, normally takes over the entire Beverly Hilton – from the same massive ballroom where the Golden Globes are held to dozens of smaller rooms.
Had it been held in July, the conference would likely have to have been more spread out. Milken staff were exploring different sites in Los Angeles since it was not clear how much of the Hilton was already booked. But with the event pushed back to October, the event can now once again take over the hotel.
Of course, it remains very much an open question whether large scale events can take place at all by October. But Milken would be loath to cancel its Global Conference since it is a major source of the nonprofit's annual revenue.
"The global crisis demonstrates the need for individuals, organizations, and nations to bridge divides and work together to find solutions to—and be better prepared for—economic and health challenges like those we are facing now and in years to come," Michael Klowden, CEO of the Milken Institute, said in a statement.
Los Angeles heads into week after largest one-day increase in COVID-19 deaths
Los Angeles County hit a grim new record over the weekend after 28 deaths were reported on Saturday from the novel coronavirus, the largest one-day increase since the outbreak slammed California. This will likely be front-and-center when California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hold respective briefings later Monday,
As of Sunday, there were 15 additional deaths and 683 new cases -- bringing the county's totals to 132 deaths and 5,950 cases. "We have some very difficult days ahead and now is the time for all of us to redouble our physical distancing efforts and look after our neighbors, friends, and families who may be at the highest risk for serious illness from COVID-19," Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
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