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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 4, 2023 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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This month, with support from the local government, German biotechnology company BioNtech is opening an mRNA vaccine factory in Rwanda, which is expected to become the first of what the company says will be a decentralized and robust end-to-end mRNA vaccine manufacturing network in Africa that will manufacture novel vaccines for Africans across the continent. The plant is expected to start by producing 50 million vaccines and will increase production based on demand. BioNTech is currently advancing vaccine candidates to address malaria and tuberculosis based on its mRNA vaccine platform.

Last week, Population Council announced that South African company Kiara Health will start producing vaginal rings for HIV prevention in the next few years, which could make the innovative tool cheaper and more readily available to women in Africa. The dapivirine ring, which has been authorized by nearly a dozen countries and the World Health Organization, offers women an alternative HIV prevention method that can be taken without anyone else’s knowledge or consent. Population Council owns the rights to the ring, which is currently produced by a Swedish company. About a half million rings have been made available freely in Africa through donor support. Population Council and Kiara estimate that the company will be able to produce double the currently available supply annually.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), and Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia last week announced the launch of the Research Preparedness Program West Africa, which will support a consortium of regional stakeholders to bolster the growing clinical research sector across the region. Specifically, the partners will work toward building up clinical trial capacity to conduct the first-ever large-scale phase 2b and 3 clinical trials of Lassa fever vaccines in the region. The program also aims to improve general preparedness to ensure the capacity to generate high-quality clinical trial data during future outbreaks of other diseases in the region in as little as 100 days.

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