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Last week, Moderna announced that its new booster shot targeted at the omicron subvariant of COVID-19 raises immune protection against subvariants by increasing levels of omicron-blocking antibodies up to 15 times pre-booster levels. Moderna also said that an early analysis showed that while the antibodies generated by the booster were less effective against the rapidly growing BQ.1.1 subvariant, they could still block it. This announcement follows similar positive findings that were released by Pfizer and BioNTech earlier this month about their own bivalent coronavirus vaccine booster. However, Novavax also recently released results showing that their bivalent booster did not show a stronger response than their original booster.
Last week, an analysis done by researchers from TB Alliance, Stop TB Partnership, and the World Health Organization estimated that the BPaLM/BPaL treatment regimen for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) could save governments up to US$740 million a year. Implementation of the all-oral, shorter regimen is estimated to be 40 to 90 percent less expensive than current drug regimens for DR-TB, when accounting for drug costs, healthcare costs, and patient-incurred costs. The cost savings from the new regimen coupled with the shorter time period and the fewer drugs that are easier to tolerate, BPaLM/BPaL could contribute to more people with DR-TB having access to treatment and improved treatment experiences.
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that WHO and the Ugandan government are planning to test three candidate Ebola vaccines in a clinical trial with the intent to help address the ongoing outbreak in the country. The first doses are expected to arrive this week, although it is unclear when exactly the trial will start. The vaccines being used in the trial include one produced by IAVI, one developed by the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and a final developed by the Jenner institute at the University of Oxford. While there have been questions about the usefulness of the trial if it concludes after the outbreak ends, the results of the trials could provide essential information that will help prevent future Sudan Ebolavirus outbreaks even if it concludes after the current outbreak. Additionally, the trial design will enable all participants to receive a vaccine (though some will receive it after a delay) as opposed to a standard randomized controlled trial in which one group gets a placebo.