The global programme to combat most dangerous epidemics


Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at


Recurring outbreaks of such epidemics as SARS, Zika or Ebola virus diseases, as well as their fatal toll, still remind us of our powerlessness. In order to gain the ability to counteract it, a programme aimed at creating supplies of vaccines for the most dangerous epidemic diseases was launched on January 19.

CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) was set up at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Initially, it was entrusted USD 460 million, coming from the donations contributed by Norway, Germany, Japan, India, the European Commission, the English Wellcome Trust foundation, as well as the foundation of Bill and Melinda Gates. The organisation is expecting to have raised a billion dollars by the end of 2017. The funds will be allocated to allow for the five years of its operation.

The primary goals of CEPI are the vaccines for the Nipah virus, as well as the vaccines to combat MERS and Lassa fever which may soon cause the epidemic of a scale similar to those brought about by SARS or Ebola and Zika viruses. Those pathogens are enumerated on the WHO R&D Blueprint List. There will be research aimed at conceiving two candidate vaccines in the case of each of these diseases conducted. The basic studies are to have been finished until 2021, while particular storage facilities are supposed to contain supplies being sufficient to make the use of new substances possible if a necessity appears.

The overly late application of a vaccine against the Ebola virus, whose development had been put aside by scientists from the USA and Canada, was one of the reasons for the establishment of CEPI. It was reminded of its necessity no earlier than during the epidemic outbreak of 2013. Scientists needed a valuable one and a half year to finish the research on this experimental vaccine since then, as well as to obtain relevant data concerning its safety of application in humans.

The lack of a commercial market for "potential" epidemic threats is yet another reason behind the establishment of this Coalition. It is also why private companies do not conduct any research addressing this threat. CEPI has decided to change the status quo and invited large pharmaceutical corporations to cooperate with their framework. CEPI is currently negotiating the terms of cooperation with such players as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Pfizer and Takeda.

The web pages of Coalition were where the first call for cooperation was published, as addressed at the organisations conducting research on candidate vaccines throughout their preclinical development phase and until the second phase of clinical trials is reached.

Sources: Nature and CEPI
Image credit: Sura Nualpradid
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