Former Biogen CEO George Scangos is launching a new biotech startup called VIR Technology set to focus on fighting infectious diseases like HIV and TB.

Background check: Scangos founded the third-best performing biotech stock, Exelixis. Even though Biogen has engaged in risky research ventures that have fumbled investors, sales at Biogen more than doubled under his leadership.

Who is paying: The Gates Foundation gave a nod to the new venture and will help fund it. VIR is also seeking funding that will likely amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, per Forbes.

Why it matters: Other drug companies have been backing away from working on infectious diseases. In 2013 there were only four big pharma companies researching treatments for ID, according to The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).

Go deeper

Fauci clashes with Rand Paul at COVID hearing: "You're not listening"

Top health expert Anthony Fauci rebuked Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at a hearing on Wednesday over his suggestion that New York's COVID-19 infection rate is low because the population there has reached herd immunity.

The big picture: Paul, a libertarian who has criticized government lockdown measures as "authoritarian," has clashed with Fauci in previous hearings. Paul accused Fauci of being a "big fan" of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his lockdown restrictions, while Fauci said the Kentucky senator has repeatedly "misconstrued" his comments.

FDA chief vows agency will not accept political pressure on coronavirus vaccine

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn promised that "science will guide our decision" for a coronavirus vaccine at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Why it matters: More Americans are expressing doubt about a first-generation vaccine, despite President Trump's efforts to push an unrealistic timeline that conflicts with medical experts in his administration.

CEO confidence rises for the first time in over 2 years

Data: Business Roundtable; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A closely-watched CEO economic confidence index rose for the first time after declining for nine straight quarters, according to a survey of 150 chief executives of the biggest U.S. companies by trade group Business Roundtable.

Why it matters: The index, which still remains at a decade low, reflects corporate America's expectations for sales, hiring and spending — which plummeted amid uncertainty when the pandemic hit.

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