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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.

October 3, 2022 by Hannah Sachs-Wetstone

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a clinical trial of one or possibly two experimental vaccines designed to protect against the rare Sudan strain of the Ebola virus that has been identified in the recent, rapid outbreak in Uganda. The trial could begin within weeks depending on the Ugandan government’s permission, which is expected soon, as well as regulatory and ethics review approvals. The trial was announced by the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, which has been conferring to identify vaccines that are far enough along in their development to undergo clinical testing. There are six vaccine candidates in development that are designed to target the Sudan strain, only half of which have advanced to the stage of human clinical trials. Of those, a candidate developed by the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is the furthest along in its development.

 Dengue resurged across Asia following a period of lower transmission due to reduced mobility because of COVID-19 restrictions, but an exciting vaccine has the potential to make huge strides in reducing the burden of the disease not only in the region but around the world. In August, Indonesia became the first country in the world to approve Takeda’s Qdenga, or TAK-003, vaccine for use against dengue in 6- to 45-year-olds. Qdenga showed incredibly promising results in clinical trials and is under review by the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory agencies in dengue-endemic countries, although it is yet to receive WHO prequalification. The vaccine addresses the complexity of dengue’s four strains by using a weakened version of the DENV 2 strain as its base and including genes from the other three strains.

In 2020, a clinical trial in South Africa testing PrEP as a shot delivered every few months found incredible success with results showing high efficacy compared to the daily pill. The drug used in the trial (long-acting cabotegravir or Cab-LA) made by ViiV Healthcare has only been awarded regulatory approval in the United States to date. Access to the shot in low- and middle-income countries has been hampered by the company’s decision to not grant licenses for generic makers to produce the drug at a lower cost. The company has made an agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool that permits three or fewer companies to make generic versions of the drug in 90 low- and middle-income countries, but it could take at least three years for regulatory approval. Viiv Healthcare has submitted its drug for WHO prequalification, which could speed up this approval process. 

About the author

Hannah Sachs-WetstoneGHTC

Hannah supports advocacy and communications activities and member coordination for GHTC. Her role includes developing and disseminating digital communications, tracking member and policy news, engaging coalition members, and organizing meetings and events.Prior to joining GHTC, more about this author