Pharma, Gates Foundation Form Global Vaccine Partnership CEPI
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the governments of Germany, Japan, and Norway have pledged $460 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global private-public partnership formed in September 2016 that is seeking to develop new vaccines for emerging infectious diseases.The investment is part of a $1-billion financing goal by CEPI, which also includes support from the pharmaceutical industry. The announcement was made at the Word Economic Forum, held earlier this month, in Davos, Switzerland.
The initial funding supports CEPI’s goal of developing vaccines against known infectious disease threats that could be deployed rapidly to contain outbreaks before they become global health emergencies. CEPI also hopes to shorten the time it takes to develop new vaccines to protect against viruses that emerge suddenly as public health threats, as was the case with the Zika virus, by using advances in vaccine technology and investing in facilities that could respond quickly to previously unknown pathogens.
The $460-million in funding is almost half of the $1 billion that CEPI says it needs for its first five years, and it is now calling for proposals from researchers and companies to support the development of vaccines against its first target diseases, MERS-CoV, Lassa, and Nipah viruses, which have known potential to cause serious epidemics. It aims to develop two promising vaccine candidates against each of these diseases before any epidemic. CEPI will also scope out potential support for vaccines against multiple strains of the Ebola and Marburg viruses, and Zika. CEPI is looking to complete its fundraising by the end of 2017.
CEPI was formed in response to calls from four independent expert reports into the Ebola epidemic for a new system for stimulating the development of vaccines against epidemic threats. It was founded by the governments of India and Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the World Economic Forum, which has played a convening role, bringing together stakeholders at the 2016 Davos meeting and other events. CEPI’s partners further include the World Health Organization, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders, and non-governmental organizations. It is further supported from several pharmaceutical companies with strength in vaccines: GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Takeda as weill as the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. CEPI plans to draw on this expertise in vaccine research and development. Companies have been developing different models to respond to CEPI’s forthcoming request for proposal by providing scientific expertise and vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities.
In terms of the initial $460 million in funding, investments have been committed by the Norwegian government, the Japanese government, the German government, the Wellcome Trust, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Norwegian government is preparing an investment of NOK 1 billion ($120 million) for the initial five-year period, and the Japanese government is investing approximately $25 million per year, equivalent to $125 million in the first five years. The federal government of Germany is making an initial commitment of EUR 10 million ($10.7 million) in 2017 with plans to allocate additional funds over the initial five years.
In addition to those governments’ funding, the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation will each invest $100 million over the initial five-year period. In addition, the government of India is finalizing the level of its funding commitment. In addition to financing for vaccine development that will be available through CEPI’s pooled fund, the European Commission will contribute to CEPI’s objectives and plans to co-fund actions with CEPI, such as through the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a initiative for public-private partnerships to spur pharmaceutical innovation in Europe.