LONDON, 20-Jan-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — Wellcome is committing $100m to a new partnership to create vaccines for epidemic diseases.
CEPI – the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation – launches on Thursday 19 January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
A collaboration between government, industry, philanthropy and civil society, CEPI will finance and coordinate development of vaccines against known infectious diseases.
Wellcome is a founding partner of CEPI and is providing $100m over five years – part of $460m funding from initial investors.
CEPI needs to raise $1bn in its first five years. Wellcome is joining initial funders in calling on other governments and philanthropic organisations to add their support.
There will be three initial disease targets:
- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
- Lassa fever
- Nipah virus.
The aim is to develop two promising vaccine candidates against each disease within five years, up to and including phase 2 clinical trials. Then, when an outbreak does occur, the candidate vaccines can be tested on the ground to determine quickly whether they are effective at containing the disease.
Dr Charlie Weller, Wellcome’s vaccines lead, says: “Ebola and Zika showed epidemic diseases remain a grave threat to world health. When Ebola struck the global community was not prepared. Potential vaccines existed but critically they had not been tested for safety which delayed assessment of their effectiveness to protect against Ebola.
“Many more diseases exist which are known epidemic threats but for which we don’t have vaccines. CEPI is our chance to learn from the past and work together to prevent future epidemic tragedy.”
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed over 11,000 people, infected over 28,000 and caused huge economic loss. Globally, epidemics cost at least $60bn every year.
CEPI (pronounced ‘seppy’) formed in response to expert reports on the Ebola outbreak calling for a new system to stimulate vaccine development.
The coalition will support development of vaccines against known threats, so they can be used to contain outbreaks before they become emergencies.
In addition to funding MERS, Lassa and Nipah vaccines, CEPI will also explore ways to support vaccines against multiple strains of the Ebola and Marburg viruses, and Zika.
And CEPI will fund development of new vaccine technologies that could be adapted to respond to previously unknown pathogens that emerge suddenly as threats, as Zika did.
Alongside Wellcome, CEPI’s co-founders are the:
- governments of India and Norway
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- World Economic Forum.
Others funding the coalition with Wellcome are the:
- governments of Germany, Japan and Norway
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Government of India is finalising the level of its significant funding commitment.
The European Commission will contribute to CEPI’s objectives and plans to co-fund actions with CEPI, such as through the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).
CEPI is backed by the World Health Organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and academic research groups.
Proposals will now be invited from researchers around the world to support the development of vaccines against the first target diseases.