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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.

May 17, 2021 by Anna Kovacevich

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Last week, an advisory committee to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine be offered to adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15, following the vaccine’s authorization for this age group by the US Food and Drug Administration earlier in the week. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky adopted the recommendation later Wednesday, clearing the way for vaccine clinics to begin to vaccinate 12-to-15-year-olds. The recommendation was based on data indicating the vaccine was protective for this age group; in a trial of 2,260 adolescents, there were 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among those who received a placebo and no confirmed cases among those who received the vaccine.

A newly established COVAX Supply Chain and Manufacturing Task Force will seek to jump-start global vaccine manufacturing capacity with a three-stage plan to enhance existing production capacity, as well as develop a new vaccine manufacturing group to bolster production in the long term. The plan seeks to address immediate manufacturing bottlenecks by identifying and matching “fill and finish” manufacturers with producers of active ingredient, accelerating approvals of export permits and customs clearances, and facilitating partnerships for the supply of vital vaccine inputs. The longer-term goals will include developing a manufacturing workforce to maximize more production using existing systems and expanding production capacity in low- and middle-income countries.

Adults over 50 who received mixed types of COVID-19 vaccines for their first and second doses were more likely to report mild and moderate side effects, according to early results from a trial in the United Kingdom. The trial is evaluating whether mixing doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines might provide longer-lasting immunity or better protection against new variants. The findings showed more reports of chills, fatigue, headache, joint pain, malaise, and muscle aches among participants who received two different vaccines than those receiving two doses of the same vaccine, but no other safety issues were identified. Further data, including on whether and how the immune response is affected, could be released in the coming months as the studies continue.

About the author

Anna KovacevichGHTC

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