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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 28, 2022 by Anna Kovacevich

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Moderna plans to ask the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in children aged 6 months to 6 years, the company announced Wednesday. Interim data from two clinical trials among children under 6 showed the vaccine generated similar immune responses to those seen in adults aged 18 to 25 who received two doses of Moderna’s adult formulation. The two-dose vaccine was, however, less effective at preventing symptomatic infection in the young children than seen in previous trials for older age groups. The decreased efficacy was on par with what would be expected of a vaccine in adults against the omicron variant, which predominated during the trial, according to Moderna. There were no severe cases, hospitalizations, or deaths in the studies.

Pfizer will supply nearly 4 million courses of its oral COVID-19 treatment, Paxlovid, to UNICEF for use in 95 low- and middle-income countries. The two-drug treatment, which has emergency use authorization in the United States and is currently under assessment by the World Health Organization, will be allocated among the target countries depending on demand, clinical recommendation, and necessary approvals. Paxlovid was shown to be 89 percent effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization or death due to COVID-19 in clinical trials, and early studies indicate the treatment has some efficacy against the newer BA.2 variant that has caused cases to increase across Europe and Asia. Pfizer expects to be able to begin supplying orders to UNICEF in April and continue throughout 2022.

A new “mosquito-grounding” insecticide that causes mosquitos’ wings to spasm and wither could bolster the fight against malaria, according to trial results published in The Lancet last week. In a two-year trial in Tanzania, lacing bednets with a combination of the new substance—chlorfenapyr—and a widely used insecticide—pyrethroid—significantly reduced malaria prevalence, including in regions where insecticide resistance is widespread. Insecticide-treated bednets have been central in efforts to reduce the spread of malaria, but rising insecticide resistance among mosquitos has hampered progress. Chlorfenapyr is the first new insecticide to be deemed safe and effective in about 40 years, and an ongoing study in Benin will continue to evaluate whether the substance reduces malaria transmission.

About the author

Anna KovacevichGHTC

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