Research Roundup: Moderna testing refrigerator-stable vaccine, ANTICOV trial adds new drug combo, and real-world data shows mRNA vaccines effective in seniors
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Moderna is studying a new version of its COVID-19 vaccine that could be kept refrigerated for up to three months, according to a statement released Thursday. Currently, the vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for one month after being thawed from its frozen storage temperature, which requires ultra cold-chain equipment that is not widely available globally. If authorized, the refrigerator-stable vaccine could increase the number of locations able to vaccinate using Moderna’s shot. The company also announced plans to invest in manufacturing facilities in Switzerland, Spain, and the United States, which would boost its capacity to produce up to 3 billion doses of the mRNA-based vaccine in 2022.
The ANTICOV clinical trial has begun recruitment for a new arm of its study that will test a combination of nitazoxanide and ciclesonide to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infection. ANTICOV, coordinated by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, is the largest trial in Africa seeking to identify early COVID-19 treatments to prevent progression to severe disease and potentially limit transmission. The study began in September with an adaptive platform design, allowing treatments to be added or removed as new evidence emerges. Nitazoxanide, an antiparasitic, and ciclesonide, an inhaled corticosteroid, are both already commercially available, and if shown to be effective against COVID-19, the treatment combination could be affordable and easy to access and administer.
Adults in the United States over the age of 65 who have been fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are 94 percent less likely to be hospitalized with the disease than those not vaccinated, according to new data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday. The findings also showed partial vaccination reduced the risk of hospitalization by 64 percent. Based on hospitalization data from two surveillance networks originally established to monitor serious influenza disease, the new evidence represents a real-world evaluation of the two mRNA-based vaccines in the United States. CDC says it is planning additional ongoing efforts to measure COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness to inform future vaccine policy.