Research Roundup: COVID-19 vaccine allocation plans, an at-home diagnostic, and positive results on a new treatment
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As COVID-19 vaccine trials continue and expand, several plans for allocation of an approved vaccine are being formed. Preliminary guidance from a strategic advisory group at the World Health Organization, which some experts have said needs more detail before it can be actionable, outlines groups of people who should have priority access to vaccines and urges high-income countries to ensure that low- and middle-income countries receive vaccines early in allocation. Draft recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, developed in response to requests from the Centers and Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health for vaccine allocation in the United States, also outlines priority groups, but goes a step further to rank those groups in a tiered approach, starting with health care workers and first responders. Both strategies address and emphasize vaccine access for disadvantaged groups, and both plans will continue to be developed in the upcoming months.
Computer vision startup Gauss and biotech company Cellex recently announced their development of the first rapid COVID-19 diagnostic test able to be performed fully at home, with no laboratory involvement. The antigen test, developed by Cellex, requires its user to take a nasal swab from both nostrils and then place the swab in a small vial filled with a buffer solution. An AI app, developed by Gauss, then analyzes a picture of the rapid test to deliver results within 15 minutes. The test is still under development, and the companies will be pursuing US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization in upcoming months with the hopes of making the tool “as widely available as possible.”
Preliminary results from a 1,000-person study indicated positive results for Eli Lilly’s anti-inflammatory treatment in shortening COVID-19 recovery time. The study, sponsored by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tested Eli Lilly’s rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib in combination with Gilead’s remdesivir, which has previously been shown to reduce COVID-19 recovery time. The results announced last week, which have not yet been published or reviewed by independent scientists, showed participants given baricitinib recovered one day sooner than those given remdesivir alone. Eli Lilly plans to pursue emergency use approval of the drug for hospitalized COVID-19 patients and, if approved, proposes selling it through its normal commercial means.