December 20, 2021
GHTC endorses GHC position paper for WHO pandemic preparedness group
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GHTC endorses a position paper by the Global Health Council (GHC) providing recommendations to the World Health Organization (WHO) Working Group for Pandemic Preparedness and Response on reforms to strengthen the agency's preparedness and response capabilities.
November 8, 2021
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Interested in more global health innovation news? Every week GHTC scours media reports worldwide to deliver essential global health R&D news and content to your inbox. Sign up now to receive our weekly R&D News Roundup email.On Thursday, AstraZeneca and Regeneron reported data on the effectiveness of their COVID-19 antibody treatments against the omicron variant of the virus. Regeneron’s therapy, REGEN-COV, is less effective against omicron, though is still active against the delta variant, confirming indications from lab tests and computer modelling late last month. AstraZeneca’s antibody cocktail, Evusheld, retained neutralizing activity against omicron, according to the lab study results. Earlier last week, researchers also announced that Eli Lilly’s antibody treatment lost effectiveness against omicron in lab tests, while GSK-Vir Biotechnology’s antibody treatment retained neutralizing activity against all tested coronavirus variants, including omicron. The omicron variant has been detected in 77 countries since it was first identified three weeks ago, driving concerns that its large number of mutations could help it evade protection by COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.A new needle-free COVID-19 vaccine to protect against future virus variants is being tested in the United Kingdom, researchers announced last week. The DIOS-CoVax vaccine, developed by scientists at Cambridge University, is administered through spring-powered jet injection and uses predictive methods to mimic the wider family of coronavirus antigens with the goal of providing more protection than existing vaccines. The trial, which will include participants aged 18 to 50, is a first step toward a universal coronavirus vaccine to protect people from COVID-19 variants and future coronaviruses—a vital part of next-generation vaccine candidates to help protect the world from the next virus threats, according to a researcher involved in its development.An antimalarial drug in development by Zydus Cadila in partnership with the Medicines for Malaria Venture received orphan drug designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday. The designation makes the drug eligible for certain development incentives, including tax credits for qualified clinical testing, prescription drug user fee exemptions, and seven-year marketing exclusivity upon FDA approval. The drug, ZY19489, is a novel antimalarial compound that combats all current clinical strains of P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria, including drug-resistant strains. A phase 1 study indicated the drug has a long half-life and potential as a single-dose cure for malaria.
December 13, 2021
Interested in more global health innovation news? Every week GHTC scours media reports worldwide to deliver essential global health R&D news and content to your inbox. Sign up now to receive our weekly R&D News Roundup email.The world remains unprepared to respond to future pandemics, warns the Global Health Security (GHS) Index report released last week assessing the efforts of 195 countries. The index, based on public information, measured each country’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to health emergencies in 2021 along with other factors, like public confidence in government. The average country score for 2021 was 38.9 out of a possible 100, similar to that of the first GHS Index in 2019, and no country scored above 75.9. The report outlines key findings—most notably that all countries remain dangerously unprepared for meeting future epidemic and pandemic threats, despite many countries being able to quickly develop capacities to address COVID-19—and offers recommendations to use this opportunity to make new capacities more durable for further long-term gains in preparedness.The US Agency for International Development on Monday announced the creation of the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access, or Global VAX, a new initiative to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination efforts around the world. Global VAX will aim to get COVID-19 shots into arms as well as enhance international coordination to identify and rapidly overcome access barriers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. These efforts will include bolstering cold chain supply and logistics, service delivery, vaccine confidence and demand, human resources, data and analytics, local planning, and vaccine safety and effectiveness. The US government will supply $400 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to support this work, adding to the $1.3 billion that has been previously committed for vaccine readiness.An experimental mRNA-based HIV vaccine showed promise in early animal studies, according to study results published Thursday. The research, conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Moderna, and other institutions, showed the vaccine was safe and prompted antibody and cellular immune responses against an HIV-like virus in mice and monkeys. Rhesus macaques that received a priming shot followed by multiple boosters had a 79 percent lower per-exposure risk of infection by simian-human immunodeficiency virus compared to unvaccinated animals. The mRNA vaccine, which uses the same technology deployed in two effective COVID-19 vaccines, combines several features that could help overcome shortcomings of other experimental HIV vaccines, according to NIAID.