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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.

December 11, 2023 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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Last Thursday, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, announced the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator, which will invest up to $1 billion in boosting African manufacturing to address the inequality in vaccine access faced by Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to produce vaccines to tackle diseases with a high burden on the continent, including cholera and malaria. The funding for the new scheme comes from leftover money from the COVAX initiative, which aimed to help the world’s poorest countries access COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic. The accelerator is expected to launch in June of next year and hopes to ensure African manufacturers can offer competitive prices, even for new technologies like viral vector and mRNA vaccines.

The startup NanoPin Technologies has developed an ultra-sensitive, blood-based test for difficult-to-detect tuberculosis (TB) cases now on the market, which is also the foundation for a multiplex TB and HIV test the company is developing. Both the NanoDetect-TB blood test, which is supposed to ease and speed up the detection of active TB, and the NanoDetect-TB/HIV multiplex assay, which uses quantitation of viral and bacterial loads to simultaneously detect HIV and TB, offer potential advantages over existing tools. Currently available tests, including the gold standard sputum-based methods for TB detection, can have low sensitivity to samples from patients with HIV and TB coinfection. Further research will be necessary to demonstrate that the multiplex test maintains efficacy in the field and that it can continue to be sensitive while reducing cost, complexity, and instrument requirements as much as possible.

Last week at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa, researchers from the PrEPVacc trial that was testing two different vaccine regimens in Africa announced that the study has been shut down, leaving no HIV efficacy trials underway globally. The trial was halted after an independent data monitoring committee concluded there was little or no chance the study would demonstrate efficacy. The study had previously been dubbed the last chance for an HIV vaccine until the 2030s. PrEPVacc was a pioneering study as one of the first large, African-led HIV vaccine trials and one of the first trials to incorporate PrEP. However, the trial did use older vaccine designs that some scientists doubted would demonstrate adequate efficacy. The hope is that data from the halted trial can eventually inform future trials for new and innovative HIV tools.

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