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Ground Beef and Broccoli | The Recipe Critic


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Get ready to enjoy a delicious and easy ground beef and broccoli stir-fry that’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. This flavorful dish combines tender broccoli, savory beef, and a rich, tangy sauce, all served over steamed rice for a satisfying meal the whole family will love.

Having a simple yet crowd-pleasing meal in your back pocket to whip up in a hurry can be such a lifesaver. Some other favorite family recipes you’ll want to keep handy are this amazing taco spaghetti, my kids’ highly requested air-fried chicken tenders, and this quick beef fried rice.

Overhead shot of ground beef and broccoli in skillet with wooden spoon.

Reasons You Will Love This Recipe

  • Super Filling: This ground beef and broccoli stir fry is high in protein and much better for you than takeout. It’s made with simple ingredients that are satisfying.
  • So Tasty: Asian food is easily one of my favorite cuisines! The sauce in this recipe is bursting with Asian flavor. It’s just as delicious as what you would get at a restaurant.
  • Comes Together Quickly: If you’re looking for a quick, simple meal that will still be incredibly delicious, this is the recipe for you!

Ingredients in Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

I love how simple the ingredients are in this ground beef and broccoli recipe! You could even switch up the meat, you don’t have to stick with just beef! Try ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork. This dish is my go-to weeknight meal when I don’t know what to cook because it’s so easy and all you need is 30 minutes! You can find the measurements below in the recipe card.

  • Broccoli Florets: You can use fresh or frozen bite-sized broccoli florets in this recipe.
  • Lean Ground Beef: I prefer to use lean ground beef, but other varieties of ground meat will work.
  • Yellow Onion: Diced onion adds great savory flavor and texture.
  • Salt & Pepper: To taste!
  • Garlic: Cooked with the onion and ground beef to add savory flavor.
Overhead shot of labeled ingredients.

Beef & Broccoli Sauce

  • Beef Broth: The flavorful base of the sauce.
  • Soy Sauce: Use low-sodium soy sauce to control the added salt. However, regular soy sauce or tamari, which is gluten-free, will also work.
  • Packed Brown Sugar: Perfectly sweetens the sauce.
  • Sesame Oil: Provides a nutty, earthy taste. If you have toasted sesame oil, that’s really delicious for a toasty flavor.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic will add a sharp spice flavor.
  • Ground Ginger: Brings a warm and slightly spicy kick to the sauce.
  • Cornstarch: Thickens the sauce.
Overhead shot of labeled ingredients for sauce.

How to Make Ground Beef and Broccoli

This easy ground beef and broccoli is so quick and easy to make! 30-minute meals that the whole family loves are the best. Here is my full list of 30-minute meals for more dinner inspiration!

  1. Steam the Broccoli: In a pot with a steamer basket, bring a few inches of water to boil and steam the broccoli for 4-5 minutes. It should be tender but still firm. Remove from the steamer basket and then set aside.
  2. Brown the Beef: In a large pan, over medium-high heat, sauté the beef and onion together until the beef is fully browned. Add in the garlic and sauté another minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Drain excess grease when done cooking.
  3. Make the Sauce: While the beef and onion are cooking, whisk together the beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch in a small bowl.
  4. Combine Sauce with Beef and Broccoli: Add the steamed broccoli to the skillet and pour the sauce over everything. Stir everything together, sautéing until the sauce thickens and coats everything completely.
  5. Serve: Serve over steamed rice. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds! If you’re feeling spicy, add some red pepper flakes.

Tips and Variations

Here are some tips for serving this delicious beef and broccoli dish and ways that you can change it up!

  • Make it Spicy: To add heat, add 2 tablespoons of sriracha sauce to the sauce mixture. 
  • Serving Suggestions: I like to serve this dish with rice, but you can also serve it with quinoa or cauliflower rice or just on its own!
  • How to Cook the Rice: If you ask me, the easiest way to cook rice is in your Instant Pot! I love Instant Pot rice because you just set it and forget it. You can also cook the rice over the stove in a pot or in a rice cooker.
  • Add More Veggies: Broccoli is the star of this dish, but you can add other vegetables. Bell pepper, snap peas, or carrots make great additions!

Close up shot of plated ground beef and broccoli over rice with a bite on a fork.

How to Store Beef and Broccoli Leftovers

Beef and broccoli make great leftovers because they reheat so easily in the microwave! The flavors will be just as good (if not better) the next day, making this a tasty option for ready-to-go lunches.

  • In the Refrigerator: Store your leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave for about 1 minute or until warm.

Overhead shot of plated beef and broccoli.

More Asian-Inspired Recipes

I absolutely love recipes with Asian flavors! Plus, when you make it at home rather than getting takeout, it tastes so much fresher and you get to control the ingredients. All of these meals here are super easy and ones that my whole family has enjoyed time and time again!

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  • In a pot with a steamer basket, bring a few inches of water to boil and steam the broccoli for 4-5 minutes. It should be tender but still firm. Remove from the steamer basket and set aside.

  • In a large skillet, over medium high heat, saute the beef and onion together until the beef is fully browned. Add in the garlic and sauté another minute. Reduce the heat to medium low.

  • While the beef and onion are cooking, in a small bowl whisk together the beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch.

  • Add the steamed broccoli to the skillet and pour the sauce over everything. Stir everything together, sauteing until the sauce thickens and coats everything completely.

  • Serve over steamed rice with green onions and enjoy!

Calories: 192kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 20gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 868mgPotassium: 527mgFiber: 2gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 378IUVitamin C: 55mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Children with RSV Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Needed More Support

JAMA Pediatrics: Children with RSV post-pandemic needed more support.

Image credits: Unsplash

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, pediatric hospitals in the United States saw a marked increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases among children. This cross-sectional study documented a substantial increase from 39,698 cases before the pandemic to 94,347 cases afterward (P < .001). Hospital admissions also saw a notable surge, rising 86.7% from 27,114 to 50,619 cases (P < .001).

Regarding treatment, the study found a significant increase in the use of advanced respiratory support methods after the pandemic. The adoption of high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) and noninvasive ventilation (NIV) rose by 70.1%. Children needing these treatments were notably older compared to previous seasons (median ages: HFNC 6.9 vs 4.6 months; NIV 6.0 vs 4.3 months, P < .001). There was a decrease in the prevalence of comorbid conditions among children requiring respiratory support across all studied modalities (HFNC, NIV, and invasive mechanical ventilation; P < .001).

“This is the largest US database study to date examining pediatric RSV infection focused on use of advanced respiratory support modes and clinical metrics of disease severity before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Although a lower proportion required hospitalization or ICU admission than typical RSV seasons, the strain on pediatric hospital systems was apparent in the 50% increase in total hospital-days and 25% increase in ICU-days during the 2022 to 2023 postpandemic season in this analysis,” according to the investigators.1

3 Key Takeaways

  1. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, pediatric hospitals in the US experienced a notable increase in severe RSV cases, resulting in significantly higher hospital admissions and increased use of advanced respiratory support among older, healthier children.
  2. There was a demographic shift observed post-pandemic, with older median ages among children hospitalized with RSV, suggesting potential changes in susceptibility patterns or exposure dynamics influenced by pandemic-related factors.
  3. The surge in RSV cases post-COVID-19 has strained pediatric healthcare systems, as evidenced by substantial increases in total hospital and ICU days, underscoring the urgent need for adaptive healthcare strategies and preventive measures.

Conducted from July 2017 to June 2023, researchers analyzed data from the Pediatric Health Information System database covering 48 freestanding US children’s hospitals. Over this period, 288,816 children aged 5 years or younger were hospitalized with RSV. After the pandemic, older median ages were observed during the 2022-2023 season compared to before (11.3 vs 6.8 months, P < .001). There was a decrease in the proportion of children with comorbidities post-pandemic, indicating a trend towards a healthier cohort requiring hospitalization.

According to the investigators, “21.6% of children across seasons required advanced respiratory support, the increase during the 2022 to 2023 post-pandemic season was largely driven by increases in the use of noninvasive support with HFNC and NIV. In this cohort, the number of patients supported with HFNC and total HFNC-days nearly doubled in 2022 to 2023, whereas the proportions of children requiring IMV and total IMV-days were stable from prepandemic data.”1

This study has limitations, it includes data from 48 pediatric hospitals in the PHIS database, which may not fully represent the whole US pediatric population. The dataset predominantly features large university medical centers, potentially overlooking perspectives from smaller hospitals and children’s facilities integrated within adult settings. Additionally, reliance on ICD-10 codes for RSV diagnosis may overestimate or underestimate infections due to inconsistent testing practices. Lack of data on viral and bacterial coinfections, potential impacts of increased viral respiratory testing availability post-pandemic on case numbers, and variations in hospital practices regarding respiratory support modes for RSV. Reporting of HFNC use across hospitals is limited, and small sample sizes for rare respiratory support modes constrain analysis. Challenges in accurately identifying patients needing only supplemental oxygen and changes in resource allocation during infectious disease surges further complicate drawing definitive conclusions.

These findings suggest potential implications for vaccine distribution strategies to mitigate future RSV season challenges.

Similarly, data from another large cohort indicate shifts in the seasonal timing of RSV and bronchiolitis infections since the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in hospitalizations among older children with RSV. However, some of these changes may be influenced by increased testing practices overall. This underscores the necessity for new prevention strategies in this vulnerable pediatric population.

An investigator from this study noted, “an overall shift in RSV seasonality toward a summer season in 2021. Although seasonal timing began to shift back to a more typical pattern (eg, occurring in colder months) in 2022 to early 2023, the number of cases in children younger than 5 years was higher overall during this season.”2

Learn more: RSV Rountable Series—a collaborative effort with our sister brands, Contemporary Pediatrics, and Contemporary OB/GYN—physicians with various areas of expertise weigh in on what they are seeing at their institutions in terms of RSV infection rates.

  1. Winthrop ZA, Perez JM, Staffa SJ, McManus ML, Duvall MG. Pediatric Respiratory Syncytial Virus Hospitalizations and Respiratory Support After the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(6):e2416852. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.16852
  2. Hoffman, M. Earlier RSV Seasonal Peaks Point to Need for Prevention in Older Children. Contagion. Published April 23, 2024. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://www.contagionlive.com/view/earlier-rsv-seasonal-peaks-need-prevention-older-children
  3. Rha B, Curns AT, Lively JY, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus-associated hospitalizations among young children: 2015-2016. Pediatrics. 2020;146(1):e20193611. doi:10.1542/peds.2019-3611

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The value of employee engagement


Unhealthy Employees Can Hurt a Healthy Bottom Line

Unhealthy employees can have a profound impact on workforce productivity, engagement, and ultimately your bottom line. Poor health results in a $530 billion loss in employee productivity annually — $198 billion of that can be attributed to chronic health conditions.

What’s even more concerning for employers is that chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and behavioral health conditions, result in 1.4 billion days of absence and illness‑related lost productivity annually.

Reaching Members Where They Are

Employee engagement is about anticipating and avoiding poor health before it happens and empowering employees to make healthier decisions.

When members opt in to receive digital messages via text and email, we tailor the information we send based on the needs of each individual to help them get or stay healthy.

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Chicken Crust Pizza

Growing up pizza night was always a big hit in our house. I’ve since implemented it with my own kids and they’re big pizza fans as well. Instead of ordering expensive (and unhealthy!) takeout or a frozen grocery store pizza though, I opt for homemade. I’ve tried several different versions over the years, and the latest is this chicken crust pizza. It’s a low-carb pizza crust that’s a twist on my meatza recipe!

Chicken Crust Pizza

The kids and I love pizza crust made with ground beef, but this yummy version uses ground chicken instead. I also use four times the amount of parmesan cheese in the crust. The combination helps satisfy cravings for traditional pizza with a delicious, crispy crust.

It’s also a great option if you’re on the keto diet since it’s low-carb and naturally gluten-free. Because it’s so full of healthy fats and nutrient-dense, it’s a lot more filling than versions with refined flour.

If you want a slightly thicker, chewier crust, then flatten the chicken to about 1/2 inch thick. For a crispy crust aim for about 1/4 inch thick instead. Thankfully the pizza “dough” is very forgiving and easy to work with!

Chicken Pizza Ingredients

The main ingredient here is chicken (obviously!), but you could substitute ground turkey if preferred. And if you have a healthy source of canned chicken that works too, plus it can be faster. Some chicken crust pizza recipes call for shredded chicken which adds a different texture.

And pizza isn’t pizza without your favorite toppings! We like using a tomato sauce with mozzarella cheese and plenty of fresh veggies. Or you could opt for alfredo sauce for a creamier version. Here are a few more topping ideas:

  • Sprinkle with Italian seasoning
  • Drizzle with a good quality olive oil
  • Pepperoni
  • Bell peppers
  • Red onion
  • Top with fresh basil after cooking
  • Black olives
  • Roasted red pepper
  • Chopped sundried tomatoes
chicken crust pizza

Chicken Crust Pizza Recipe

This recipe is a twist on my classic meatza and a popular chicken crust trend!

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, dried oregano, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Mix well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

  • Line a baking sheet, pizza pan, or pizza stone with parchment paper.

  • Transfer the chicken mixture onto the prepared parchment paper and spread it evenly about 1/4-1/2 inch thick to create a pizza crust.

  • Bake the chicken crust in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until it’s golden brown and firm.

  • Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.

  • To top, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the crust, leaving a border around the edges.

  • Add your favorite pizza toppings such as mozzarella cheese, vegetables, or pepperoni.

  • Return the pizza to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

  • Once done, carefully remove the chicken crust pizza from the oven.

  • Allow it to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Chicken Crust Pizza Recipe

Amount Per Serving (1 slice)

Calories 129
Calories from Fat 63

% Daily Value*

Fat 7g11%

Saturated Fat 3g19%

Trans Fat 0.04g

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 3g

Cholesterol 95mg32%

Sodium 377mg16%

Potassium 377mg11%

Carbohydrates 2g1%

Fiber 0.4g2%

Sugar 1g1%

Protein 13g26%

Vitamin A 184IU4%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Calcium 72mg7%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

  • Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to four days in an airtight container.
  • Reheat any leftovers in the oven on parchment paper.

More Pizza Recipes

What are your favorite pizza toppings? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Recent Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Household Pet

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that Salmonella linked to pet bearded dragons has affected at least 15 individuals across nine states. Four people have been hospitalized, but no fatalities have occurred. New York recorded 4 cases, Ohio, and California each reported 3 cases. Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia each reported 1 case. The CDC indicated that the actual number of cases is likely higher than reported and may extend beyond the currently identified states.

Where the Salmonella-infected individuals live.

Image credits: CDC

When and how many people got sick with Salmonella.

Image credits: CDC

The outbreak strain identified is Salmonella Cotham. Among the affected individuals, 9 are preschool-aged children. Illness onset dates ranged from January 8, 2024, to May 16, 2024. Of those interviewed, 58% reported contact with a bearded dragon before becoming ill.

According to the CDC, “Bearded dragons can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings even if they look healthy and clean. These germs can easily spread to their bodies and anything in the area where they live and roam.”1

Children under 5 years old account for 60% of the reported illnesses. The CDC emphasized that bearded dragons are not recommended as pets for children under 5, adults over 65, or individuals with weakened immune systems due to the heightened risk of severe illness from reptile-associated germs.

Additionally, the CDC warned that bearded dragons can shed Salmonella in their feces even if they appear healthy. It is advisable to minimize contact between these individuals with weakened immune systems, and pet dragons to reduce the risk of illness.

This is the second Salmonella outbreak thus far in June 2024, on June 2, 162 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Africana have been reported from 25 states and the District of Columbia. There have been 54 people hospitalized, and no deaths associated with the outbreak of the 65 people interviewed, 47 (72%) reported eating cucumbers.2

People should call their healthcare providers if they have any of these severe Salmonella symptoms:2

  1. Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
  2. Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
  3. Bloody diarrhea
  4. So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
  5. Signs of dehydration, such as:
  • Not peeing much
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Feeling dizzy when standing up

These recent outbreaks of Salmonella Cotham linked to pet bearded dragons and Salmonella Africana from contaminated cucumbers highlight ongoing challenges in public health. The CDC’s investigations reveal concerning trends, with Salmonella Cotham notably affecting preschool-aged children despite precautions. Simultaneously, the widespread Salmonella Africana outbreak underscores the importance of food safety measures, with numerous hospitalizations reported nationally. These events emphasize the critical need for adherence to CDC guidelines, and prompt medical attention for severe symptoms associated with Salmonella infection, especially among vulnerable populations.

  1. Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Pet Bearded Dragons. Posted June 14, 2024. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/cotham-06-24/details.html
  2. Parkinson, K. Potential Salmonella Outbreak Associated With Cucumbers. Contagion. Published June 6, 2024. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.contagionlive.com/view/potential-salmonella-outbreak-associated-with-cucumbers

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Spicy Passion Fruit Mocktail (AKA “Mockarita”)


Pouring our spicy passion fruit mocktail recipe from a measuring glass into a serving glass

Step aside margaritas, the mockarita has ARRIVED! This passion fruit mocktail has all the tart, sweet, refreshing goodness of a traditional margarita thanks to passion fruit, lime, and agave. And, spicy charred jalapeños add booze-like complexity and heat without the alcohol. Yep, it’s seriously good! 

AND…it gets better! Just 4 ingredients and 25 minutes required, friends. Let us show you how to mockarita!

Lime wedges, jalapeños, agave, and frozen passion fruit purée

How to Make a Spicy Passion Fruit Mocktail

This “mockarita” begins with the element we find is missing in many mocktails: a flavor with booze-like complexity that takes it beyond just sweetened fruit juice. The answer? Broiling jalapeño until it has a good char on the outside. Now we’ve entered smoky + spicy land!

Pouring water into a blender with passion fruit purée, charred jalapeños, lime juice, and agave

Then we blend up the charred jalapeño with water to make it pourable, lime juice for tartness, seedless passion fruit purée for bold tropical flavor, and agave for a sweetness to balance it all.

Pouring the passion fruit mocktail mixture through a strainer to remove the jalapeño skin

Finally, we pour the mixture through a strainer to remove any bits of jalapeño and create a smooth drink. The result is a seriously delicious passion fruit mocktail that feels fancy yet is simple to make!

Three glasses of iced passion fruit mocktails with fresh passion fruit halves and lime wedges next to them

We hope you LOVE this mocktail! It’s:

Subtly spicy
Quick & easy
& SO delicious!

This is the perfect drink to offer as a booze-free option at parties, make for friends, bring to baby showers, cool off with on a summer evening, or celebrate New Year’s Eve without alcohol.

More Mocktail Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Hand reaching in to pick up a stemmed glass of our passion fruit mocktail recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 5 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

Servings 4 (1/2-cup servings)

Course Beverage

Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan

Freezer Friendly 1 month

Does it keep? 2-3 Days

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • Preheat oven to a high broil. Place an oven rack on the very top shelf just below the broiler element, leaving just enough space to fit a baking sheet. Optional: Line your baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Place jalapeños cut side down on the baking sheet and broil for 4-5 minutes, watching closely, until the outside of the jalapeños begin to blister and blacken. You want them ~50% charred. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

  • In a blender, combine the water, passion fruit purée, agave nectar, lime juice, and cooled jalapeños. Blend on high until smooth with no chunks of jalapeño remaining. Taste and adjust as needed, adding more passion fruit or lime for tartness or more agave for sweetness.
  • To enjoy, strain into a jar or pitcher to save for later use, or strain directly into serving glasses over ice. Leftovers keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 1 month. This would also be delicious as popsicles!

*You could use honey or maple syrup in place of the agave nectar, but it will change the flavor slightly. We like how agave’s neutral flavor allows the passion fruit and spice to really shine!
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Serving: 1 (half-cup) serving Calories: 86 Carbohydrates: 24.5 g Protein: 0.5 g Fat: 0.1 g Saturated Fat: 0 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 2 mg Potassium: 119 mg Fiber: 0.5 g Sugar: 17.3 g Vitamin A: 411 IU Vitamin C: 15 mg Calcium: 2.6 mg Iron: 0.3 mg

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Healthy You! – June 2024 edition


Every June, graduates and their families celebrate the end of one adventure and the start of the next. This month’s edition of Healthy You! encourages your employees to embrace their adventurous sides. They’ll learn how taking a vacation can help them relax, experience different cultures, try new activities, and boost their creativity. Employees will discover how choosing foods with bright colors and appealing textures can inspire them to experiment in the kitchen. And we’ve got life management tips for a calmer, more purpose-filled life, with more time to explore hobbies and new interests. Get ready…the adventure is just beginning!

Read the new issue.

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FDA Approves Merck’s CAPVAXIVE (V116) Vaccine to Combat Pneumococcal Disease in Adults

Merck has achieved a significant milestone with the approval of its investigational 21-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, V116, by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This groundbreaking decision follows four compelling Phase 3 trials results underscoring V116’s efficacy in preventing responsible for approximately 84% of invasive pneumococcal disease in adults 50 and older.

Heather Platt, DMD, a part of Merck’s global clinical development for vaccines, emphasized the significance of this achievement, “One important reason we are so invested in the pneumococcal vaccine space is that we truly understand the burden of disease in adults. The burden of disease has prompted many vaccine manufacturers to invest in disease. They really are the keyway to prevent disease, morbidity, mortality.”

The Phase 3 trial, STRIDE-10, demonstrated V116’s superiority over the existing PPSV23 vaccine across multiple metrics. V116 elicited robust immune responses for 12 shared serotypes and significantly outperformed PPSV23 in immune response rates for nine unique serotypes not covered by the older vaccine. The safety profile of V116 was comparable to PPSV23, reinforcing its suitability for widespread use.

“PPSV23 is a vaccine that has been in use for close to 40 years. There are newer conjugate vaccines that have been introduced into the vaccination guidelines. So, our clinical development program actually evaluated V116 compared to PCV20 and also compared to PPSV23,” Platt notes. “The approach that we took for V116 is adult specific. We looked at surveillance data over time and picked the serotypes, selected these serotypes that are the ones circulating in adults, really the ones causing disease. So we have serotypes that are in currently licensed vaccines and then we have unique serotypes that are not in any currently licensed vaccine.”

Merck also presented data suggesting that V116 could reduce the health and economic burden with pneumococcal disease across multiple European countries, underscoring its potential impact in real-world settings.

“When you prevent morbidity, you’re also preventing fatalities, death, you’re preventing hospitalizations, loss of work, you’re limiting caregiver burden. So all of those are incredibly important because that’s healthcare utilization, that’s strain on the healthcare system. So if we can prevent the disease from happening, we have an overall positive benefit on public health.”

Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, leverages the power of cutting-edge science to improve the lives of people worldwide. With a legacy spanning over 130 years, Merck continues to pioneer breakthroughs in medicine and vaccines, striving to create a healthier future for all.

“As it relates to pneumococcal disease, we remain invested. Invested in evaluating the right approach. Right now, V116 is taking an adult-specific approach, which will complement our pediatric vaccines. So, we remain invested in really understanding the serotype epidemiology, the trend of what’s happening with vaccination uptake and impact and looking for ways to improve.”

In conclusion, the FDA’s approval of Merck’s 21-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, V116, is a significant milestone in adult pneumococcal vaccination. Supported by Phase 3 trial data, V116 demonstrates efficacy and safety comparable to existing vaccines, offering new options against pneumococcal disease. Merck’s commitment to innovative vaccine solutions underscores its dedication to global health. As V116 prepares for widespread use, its potential to reduce disease burden and improve public health outcomes is promising.


1. MERCK. U.S. FDA Approves CAPVAXIVE™ (Pneumococcal 21-valent Conjugate Vaccine) for Prevention of Invasive Pneumococcal Disease and Pneumococcal Pneumonia in Adults. Published June 17, 2024. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.merck.com/news/u-s-fda-approves-capvaxive-pneumococcal-21-valent-conjugate-vaccine-for-prevention-of-invasive-pneumococcal-disease-and-pneumococcal-pneumonia-in-adults/

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Top 5 Infectious Disease News Stories Week of June 8-June 14

Overcoming “RSV identity crisis,” Moderna announced data for its investigational mRNA-1083 vaccine, BWC0977 effort to target drug-resistant pathogens, and more this week from Contagion.

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Is Tamiflu Effective Against Avian Influenza?

Colorized transmission electron micrograph of Avian influenza A H5N1 viruses (seen in gold) grown in MDCK cells (seen in green).

Photo Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith Content Providers: CDC/ Courtesy of Cynthia Goldsmith; Jacqueline Katz; Sherif R. Zaki

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported there is a reduced susceptibility for influenza antiviral, oseltamivir (Tamiflu) against 2 mutations, I223V + S247N, of the avian influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 viruses. The viruses, which are circulating through 5 continents, belong to 2 phylogenetically distinct groups and display ≈13-fold reduced inhibition by oseltamivir while retaining normal susceptibility to other antivirals, according to a report in the latest issue of CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.1

“Three classes of direct-acting antivirals targeting the influenza virus matrix protein 2 (M2) ion channel, neuraminidase (NA), or polymerase cap-dependent endonuclease (CEN) are approved to treat influenza in many countries, the CDC authors write. “Although most seasonal influenza viruses are susceptible to NA and CEN inhibitors, emergence of antiviral-resistant variants is a public health concern because of widespread resistance to M2 inhibitors and possibilities of similar resistance developing for other antiviral drugs.”1

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is monitoring oseltamivir susceptibility through their Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (WHO-GISRS).

The CDC authors wrote NA amino acid substitution H275Y, acquired spontaneously or after drug exposure, confers resistance to oseltamivir. “Oseltamivir-resistant influenza A(H1N1) viruses with H275Y emerged first in Europe during 2007–2008 and rapidly spread worldwide. However, they were displaced by influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 (pH1N1), the swine-origin virus that caused the 2009 pandemic,” they point out.

“Although there are no established criteria for determining clinically relevant oseltamivir resistance based on phenotypic testing, for surveillance purposes, influenza A viruses tested in NA inhibition assays are classified as displaying reduced inhibition if they have a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) 10-100–fold higher or as highly reduced inhibition if IC50 >100-fold higher than that of a reference,” they also write.

Learn more: Deconstructing the Avian Flu

Study Parameters and Results
From May 2023 to February 2024, the investigators examined 2039 pH1N1 viruses from both the United States (n = 1274) and 38 other countries (n = 765). Of these, 4 of them had the H275Y substitution, indicating low frequency of oseltamivir resistance. Analysis revealed NA substitution I223V in 18 and S247N in 15 viruses; those substitutions confer mildly elevated oseltamivir IC50 (<10-fold) according to the investigators. They also discovered 17 viruses that carried both substitutions, I223V + S247N. The CDC authors note that Hong Kong investigators also saw the emergence of the dual mutants.

“As expected, single mutants exhibited normal inhibition by oseltamivir and other NA inhibitors in NA inhibition assay,” the investigators wrote. “The 6 viruses with I223V + S247N displayed 13- to 16-fold reduced inhibition for oseltamivir and normal inhibition (<4-fold) for other NA inhibitors.”

Incidence Numbers
Right now, there has not been a large caseload of people infected; however, there has been a slightly over 50%mortality rate in these patients. According to the WHO, from 2003 to April 1, 2024, a total of 889 cases and 463 deaths (CFR 52%) caused by influenza A(H5N1) virus have been reported from 23 countries. The most recently reported case in humans prior to the current case, was in March 2024 in Vietnam.On May 15, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced a new case of avian influenza was reported in a Michigan farmworker, which makes it the second case in the state and third overall in the US.3 All cases thus far has been in farmworkers who have had contact with cows.

Although this form of influenza initially was found in birds, several herds of cows have been infected with H5N1.

Although there was reduced susceptibility of oseltamivir in the dual mutants, the investigators look at other antivirals.

“The dual mutants that we tested retained susceptibility to other approved influenza antiviral drugs, including baloxavir,” the CDC authors wrote.

Sequencing data showed the dual mutants have been in global circulation since May of last but that the detection of it was low (0.67%, 101/15,003).

They do point out that they may have been limited to true incidence rates due to differences in surveillance and sequencing strategies performed in various countries. However, those data may not necessarily represent the actual proportion of what was in circulation because of differences in surveillance and sequencing strategies in each country.

1.Patel MC, Nguyen HT, Pascua PNQ, Gao R, Steel J, Kondor RJ, et al. Multicountry spread of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses with reduced oseltamivir inhibition, May 2023–February 2024. Emerg Infect Dis. 2024 Jul Accessed June 14, 2024. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid3007.240480
2. Avian Influenza A(H5N1) – United States of America. WHO. April 9, 2024. Accessed June 15, 2024.
3. Parkinson J. Third Avian Influenza Case Identified. Contagion. May 15, 2024. Accessed June 15, 2024.

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