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In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, we highlight some of the most interesting reads in global health research from the past week.

March 15, 2021 by Anna Kovacevich

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Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine has an overall efficacy of 89.7 percent, with 100 percent efficacy against severe disease, according to final results of its phase 3 trial in the United Kingdom. The results, released Thursday and not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, showed 96.4 efficacy against the original strain of the COVID-19 virus and 86.3 percent against the B.1.17 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom. The company also announced results from a phase 2b trial in South Africa, which showed 48.6 percent efficacy overall but maintained 100 percent efficacy against severe disease. Phase 3 trials in the United States and Mexico are ongoing. Novavax plans to apply for regulatory approvals around the world, including for use by the global vaccine initiative COVAX, to which Novavax pledged to provide 1.1 billion doses.

An antibody cocktail developed by Eli Lilly decreased risk of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 by 87 percent when compared to a placebo, the company said Wednesday. The antibody duo, a lower-dose combination of bamlanivimab and etesevimab, received emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February based on previous trial data indicating a 70 percent reduction in hospitalizations and deaths using higher doses. The treatment showed complete protection against death in both phase 3 cohorts. Eli Lilly has a supply deal with United States for 100,000 doses of the treatment, set to be delivered by the end of the month, and the company has now partnered with Amgen to help produce up to 1 million doses of the cocktail by the end of the year. 

On Thursday, results from a long-term study in South Africa showed almost all patients who received a new treatment for highly drug-resistant tuberculosis remained clear of the disease two years after the trial. The six-month, all-oral regimen of bedaquiline, pretomanid, and linezolid (BPaL) treats highly drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis and shortens the treatment period from two years, with limited side effects. The new findings come from analysis of the Nix-TB trial, conducted by the TB Alliance of South Africa, which tested the BPaL regimen on 109 patients at three sites in the country. Preliminary trial results showed a 90 percent success rate after six months of treatment and six months of post-treatment follow-up, and according to the new data, only two patients had challenges by two years after the treatment.

About the author

Anna KovacevichGHTC

Anna Kovacevich is a senior program assistant at GHTC who supports GHTC's communications and member engagement activities.