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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 23, 2022 by Anna Kovacevich

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IAVI and Moderna are preparing to launch the first in-Africa trial for an mRNA HIV vaccine candidate, the organizations announced last week. The phase 1 vaccine trial will take place at the Center for Family Health Research in Kigali, Rwanda, and The Aurum Institute in Tembisa, South Africa. The vaccine candidate, mRNA-1644, uses Moderna’s mRNA technology to deliver a specific class of B cells needed to develop broadly neutralizing antibodies to fight HIV infection. mRNA technology could accelerate the development of a safe, effective, affordable, and durable HIV vaccine, according to IAVI, and the trial will build on progress in HIV vaccine research using the combination of Moderna's proven mRNA vaccine technology and a novel HIV vaccine approach developed by IAVI and Scripps Research, and draw on more than two decades of collaboration with scientific centers of excellence in sub-Saharan Africa, supported by the US Agency for International Development.

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel on Thursday voted to recommend children between the age of 5 and 11 should be offered a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least five months after receiving their second dose. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky then endorsed the panel’s recommendation, which followed authorization by the Food and Drug Administration earlier that week. In making their decision, the CDC advisors reviewed data indicating a third dose increases the antibody response from the vaccine, which should protect recipients better, at least temporarily. CDC also now recommends those who are 12 and older and immunocompromised and all people over the age of 50 should receive a second booster, at least four months after their first dose.

Clinical research in the United States faces a “critical shortcoming” when it comes to diversity, a new report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine stresses. While diversity has become an increasingly important priority, racial and ethnic minority populations continue to be left behind in research, leaving a large portion of the US population—and those that often face the greatest health challenges—less able to benefit from discoveries, because they are not adequately represented in clinical studies. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community, older adults, pregnant and lactating individuals, and people with disabilities are also among the populations frequently left out. The report offers recommendations to increase the inclusion of these groups in order to advance equitable research—described as a clinical trial population that matches the demographics of the disease being studied.

About the author

Anna KovacevichGHTC

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