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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.

September 14, 2020 by Anna Kovacevich

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Last week, AstraZeneca paused its phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial after a participant exhibited symptoms of transverse myelitis. On Saturday, the company announced the UK trials of its vaccine candidate would resume, citing the conclusion of its investigation into the adverse reaction. AstraZeneca’s clinical trials in the United States, Brazil, and South Africa remain paused. No further details on the affected participant or illness have been released, to protect patient confidentiality. The UK trial continuation was greenlit by Britain’s regulatory authority, and the review process included analysis from independent boards overseeing trials on several other COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

German diagnostic test maker Qiagen plans to launch a COVID-19 antigen test that processes about 30 samples per hour and provides results within 15 minutes. The company plans to launch two versions of the test in November, one for labs and one for point-of-care use, and has not yet received authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Studies on the diagnostic indicated 100 percent accuracy in identifying those without the disease and at least 90 percent accuracy in identifying those with the disease. The test uses an eHub, a small portable device, to analyze nasal swab samples. Qiagen expects to be able to produce several million tests per month when it launches and scale up to more than 10 million per month in 2021.

The United States has indicated it will not participate in the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, a global effort to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines effectively and equitably. The initiative—co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance—currently includes more than 170 countries and hopes to work against “vaccine nationalism,” which WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said exacerbated the pandemic and supply chain failures. The Trump administration said the United States will continue to work toward a vaccine that maintains FDA standards.

About the author

Anna KovacevichGHTC

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