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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.

November 22, 2021 by Anna Kovacevich

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Pfizer signed a voluntary license agreement last week to share the patents and knowledge to manufacture its COVID-19 antiviral pill, Paxlovid, with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). The agreement will allow MPP to grant sublicenses to qualified generic medicine manufacturers to supply the treatment to 95 countries once regulatory authorization or approval is granted. Paxlovid, a five-day oral treatment regimen, was shown to reduce the risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization and death by 89 percent in phase 2/3 clinical trial results. The new licensing agreement will allow the rapid scale-up of manufacturing of the treatment, which is particularly well-suited for low- and middle-income countries and would contribute to global efforts to combat COVID-19, according to the executive director of MPP.

AstraZeneca’s antibody cocktail is more than 80 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, according to results released by the company Thursday. The study—in which more than 75 percent of participants had comorbidities that put them at risk of developing severe COVID-19—showed the long-acting antibody combination reduced the risk of symptomatic COVID-19 by 83 percent over a period of six months. There were also no cases of severe disease or death among those who received the antibody cocktail, which is administered as a one-time 300-mg dose in two separate, sequential shots. The preventative treatment is intended to help at-risk individuals, particularly those who do not develop an adequate immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine, to prevent serious illness from the virus.

Merck KGaA (EMD Group) and the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium have announced pivotal phase 3 trial results for schistosomiasis treatment arpraziquantel, indicating the drug has met the primary endpoint of clinical cure among children ages three months to six years. Arpraziquantel—an orally dispersible tablet derived from praziquantel, the formulation used for older children and adults—is tailored to the needs of the estimated 50 million preschool-aged children suffering from schistosomiasis, who currently have no treatment option. Merck KGaA intends to apply for a scientific opinion from the European Medicines Agency under a high-priority procedure for medicines intended for markets outside the European Union, which would facilitate prequalification by the World Health Organization as well as regulatory approvals in endemic countries. 

About the author

Anna KovacevichGHTC

Anna supports communications activities and member coordination for GHTC. Her portfolio includes the development and dissemination of the coalition’s communications materials and digital outreach, facilitating engagement and outreach to coalition members, and supporting all more about this author