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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.

August 15, 2022 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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Scientists in eastern China have identified an animal virus that has jumped to people, infecting 35 since 2018. Named the Langa henipavirus, it causes respiratory symptoms and is closely related to two other human henipaviruses, Hendra and Nipa. While scientists believe the virus is not fatal, nor does it seem to spread easily between humans, experts have urged ongoing surveillance and further research into the virus, especially as zoonotic disease outbreaks become more common worldwide. The virus is believed to be carried by wild shrews although it is unclear whether people are infected directly or indirectly by these animals.

Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced new trials will start later this month of their updated mRNA vaccine aimed at protecting against the B.A.4 and B.A.5 Omicron subvariants, which have spread quickly and demonstrated heightened ability to evade existing vaccine protection. If the vaccines receive regulatory approval, the companies expect to roll out the updated vaccines by October. The approval process should be quicker than normal as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not requiring updated clinical data for the B.A.4- and B.A.5-updated shots, instead basing their approval on clinical data from the companies’ Omicron B.A.1-focused vaccine trials, which have already been submitted.

The Biden administration is stretching out its limited supply of Jynneos monkeypox vaccine to address the growing public health issue and supply shortage in the face of high demand for the vaccine. On Tuesday, August 9, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization to allow the method of injecting one-fifth of the normal dose amount into the skin rather than a full dose into the fat. The guidance still urges health care providers to continue to follow the regimen of two shots 28 days apart with the lower dose amount. The administration is recommending this method to ensure more high-risk people can access at least some vaccine protection.

About the author

Hannah Sachs-WetstoneGHTC

Hannah supports advocacy and communications activities and member coordination for GHTC. Her role includes developing and disseminating digital communications, tracking member and policy news, engaging coalition members, and organizing meetings and events.Prior to joining GHTC, more about this author