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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.

May 16, 2022 by Anna Kovacevich

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World leaders convened virtually Thursday for a second Global COVID-19 Summit to accelerate collective efforts in the global pandemic response, pledging about $3.1 billion in new 2022 funding along with commitments to bolster availability of COVID-19 tools. The funding commitments, though falling short of the goal of $10 billion for vaccinations and $3 billion for therapeutics and oxygen, included more than $2 billion in funding for the immediate COVID-19 response and $962 million for a new pandemic preparedness and global health security fund to be established at the World Bank. The United States, which cohosted the summit alongside Belize, Germany, Indonesia, and Senegal, also announced a new National Institutes of Health licensing agreement to share technologies with the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool and the Medicines Patent Pool to support the development of therapeutics, early-stage vaccines, and diagnostic tools.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will provide up to $19.3 million to support development of a “variant-proof” COVID-19 vaccine by an international consortium consisting of Bharat Biotech, the University of Sydney, and ExcellGene SA. The funding will support preclinical and clinical proof of concept for an adjuvanted subunit vaccine candidate—including immunogen design, preclinical studies, manufacturing process development, and a phase 1 clinical trial—with the goal of providing broad protection against all known SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern as well as future variants of the virus. The project could contribute to long-term control of COVID-19, according to CEPI, and the partnership has committed to achieving equitable access to any outputs of the project.

A World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal to temporarily waive patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines is receiving tepid reactions from members ahead of a long-delayed ministerial conference set for June. The current compromise proposal would ease some existing barriers to issuing compulsory licenses for patents on COVID-19 vaccines, but also introduces new impediments, including a condition requiring countries to list each patent they intend to waive. The deal is a result of discussions between the European Union, United States, South Africa, and India, following the original proposal by South Africa and India presented in 2020, which sought to not only waive intellectual property protections on patents, but also trade secrets, copyrights, and industrial designs, for treatments, tests, and vaccines. WTO member states expressed mixed views at a recent meeting of the Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, or TRIPS, ultimately leaving the fate of the proposal uncertain.

About the author

Anna KovacevichGHTC

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