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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 6, 2021 by Anna Kovacevich

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On Wednesday, global leaders agreed to start negotiations to create an international agreement to prevent and deal with future pandemics. The consensus decision, made during a special session of the World Health Assembly and reached after three days of talks, commits member states to begin work on an agreement, which would aim to bolster global action plans toward preventing, preparing, and responding to future pandemics. This could include creating a global structure to identify threats earlier, better share data or genome sequences of emerging viruses, and ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines and other tools. An intergovernmental negotiating body will draft and negotiate the final convention, which would then need to be adopted by member states.

Aspen Pharmacare is finalizing an agreement to license the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine in Africa, the company announced last week after signing a non-binding agreement with two J&J subsidiaries. Aspen, which already packages J&J’s vaccine at its factory in South Africa, would be the first company with African rights to distribution, pricing, and branding of the vaccine. The licensing agreement would allow Aspen to launch the vaccine under the name Aspenovax and supply the shot to public-sector markets on the continent through deals with designated multilateral organizations and with governments of African Union member states. Aspen currently has capacity to manufacture up to 300 million doses of the shot, with plans to significantly increase that number to support vaccination across the African continent.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, will finance the rollout of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine—the world’s first approved malaria vaccine and the first vaccine approved for a human parasitic disease—in sub-Saharan Africa. The funding commitment, announced Thursday, will support procurement, technical assistance for vaccine introduction, and other associated costs to enable countries to add the vaccine to immunization programs as an additional tool to combat malaria. The vaccine, developed by GlaxoSmithKline in partnership with PATH and with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was recommended by the World Health Organization in October for broad use among children at risk in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions that experience significant levels of malaria transmission.

About the author

Anna KovacevichGHTC

Anna Kovacevich is a senior program assistant at GHTC who supports GHTC's communications and member engagement activities.