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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.

April 11, 2022 by Anna Kovacevich

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Last week, advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration convened to assess the country’s COVID-19 vaccine policy, including guidance on updated vaccines to offer increased protection against variants. Some health officials believe revised vaccines will be needed by the fall, when the virus could resurge in force. Researchers developing modified vaccines would need to settle on a formula as early as June to have a vaccine ready for use this fall, according to the panel, though several trials are just now getting underway—including a National Institutes of Health study analyzing a Moderna vaccine revised to target three different variants, for which results are expected this summer. Once regulators decide on a reconfigured vaccine, manufacturers would need several months to produce doses, according to one expert, and several others underscored the uncertainty and difficulty of the highly compressed timeline.

Moderna and IAVI will collaborate to develop vaccines and antibodies for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, antimicrobial-resistant enteric infections, and COVID-19 using mRNA technology, the organizations announced Thursday. The partnership aims to accelerate the research and development process, as Moderna’s mRNA platform can help develop material for clinical testing more quickly than traditional recombinant protein synthesis or cell systems can. If candidates are successful, they can also be manufactured quickly and at large scale, according to Moderna. The first candidate the partnership will work on is HIV vaccine antigens delivered by mRNA, for which a phase 1 trial was initiated in January. Preclinical efforts in the collaboration include candidates for tuberculosis, COVID-19, and HIV.

The world needs to invest $15 billion this year, and $10 billion annually in future years, to establish and maintain an adequate toolkit to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemic threats, according to a working paper released by the International Monetary Fund last week. The paper, published in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Global Fund, and Wellcome Trust, outlines the funding estimate while asserting that ending the pandemic everywhere remains an urgent economic, health, and moral priority for the world. Countries need vaccines, tests, treatments, and an improved health infrastructure to tackle COVID-19 and other deadly diseases, as well as investments in global surveillance, research and development, manufacturing, and health systems, global leaders said.

About the author

Anna KovacevichGHTC

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