Flu News Day, 8/2/2022
Articles featured in August 2nd’s Flu News Day discuss the need for global health equity and updates in combined Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines. Funding opportunities are also featured.
The Radical Plan For Vaccine Equity
The World Health Organization’s mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub is a radical attempt to grow vaccine manufacturing capacities in LMICs, but the effort is currently hindered by the modern vaccine ecosystem. This current system relies on the generosity of those in HICs, a strategy which has left millions unprotected and allowed variants to emerge in the COVID-19 pandemic. The mRNA transfer hub aims to better protect the globe through advancing local LMIC vaccine production, but intellectual property laws may inhibit their commercial distribution. Moreover, contracts to buy local vaccines could address the hurdle that these vaccines will inevitably cost more than those produced at greater scale by larger companies. Still, equity demands that these challenges are met, and a successful technology transfer hub could save millions from infectious disease threats. Read more about these challenges and hear from those determined to help the technology transfer hub succeed here.
Rational development of a combined mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 and influenza
A combined influenza and COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, AR-CoV/IAV, has successfully produced protective immune responses in mice after two doses and may provide new evidence for more broadly protective vaccines. AR-CoV/IAV encodes a combination of a hemagglutinin (HA) antigen from H1N1 influenza A virus, termed ARIAV, and the receptor binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein, called ARCoV. ARIAV, the influenza component, notably elicits HA stalk-specific antibodies, which can protect against a broad range of heterologous/heterosubtypic viruses. Importantly, AR-CoV/IAV protected mice from co-infection of influenza and COVID-19, which is known to result in severe clinical outcomes. To read more about the humoral and antigen-specific cellular immune responses elicited by AR-CoV/IAV in mice, read the research article here.
Universal financing and coverage of vaccines
A new study published July 19th shows the viability of implementing a pay-it-forward approach as a vaccine financing mechanism. After receiving a free vaccination, research participants in Guangdong, China were asked to donate a discretionary sum to help pay for the cost of vaccinating the community member next in line for the vaccine and were also invited to write a small note for this community member. This equitable financing mechanism increased community confidence, increased uptake of the vaccine among priority populations and led to a ‘substantial cost recovery’. Read more about this potential financing mechanism here.