As shown by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a world characterised by increasing population density, human mobility and ecological change, emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) pose a growing threat to global health security.
Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools against epidemics and can significantly reduce their societal and economic impacts. However vaccine development has historically been a long and costly endeavour. Vaccine development for EIDs is especially challenging given the limited market potential for vaccines against these diseases, and difficulties in testing such vaccines.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is a non-profit organisation that seeks to stimulate and fast-track the development of vaccines against EIDs and to enable equitable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks.
In March 2021, CEPI launched the USD3.5 billion CEPI 2.0 plan which sets out its new strategic priorities to:
- Prepare for known epidemic and pandemic threats;
- Transform the response to the next novel threat; and
- Connect and enhance global collaboration to build a world that is better equipped to deal with these devastating diseases.
Our initial investment in CEPI of $4.5 million for the period 2019-2022 was increased to $12 million in 2020. The additional $7.5 million formed part of Australia’s Coronavirus Global Response pledge package in May 2020.
From 2020 to 2025, CEPI will support ambitious innovations including:
- Compressed vaccine development timelines down to 100 days
CEPI aims to compress vaccine development timelines to 100 days – about a third of the time that it took the world to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Had an effective vaccine to COVID-19 been available within 100 days, millions of lives could have been saved, trillions of dollars in economic damage averted and the immense societal disruption largely avoided.
- Development of a universal vaccine against coronaviruses
CEPI will initiate development of a broadly protective vaccine approach that could eliminate the risk of existing coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS and new, as-yet-unknown coronaviruses, as an issue of the greatest global urgency. The emergence of a coronavirus combining the transmissibility of COVID-19 with the lethality of SARS or MERS would be civilization-shattering.
- Development of a library of vaccine candidates against other infectious disease threats to accelerate vaccine development
While vaccines cannot be developed against all potential viral threats, CEPI can produce a library of prototype vaccines and other biological interventions against viruses from the 25 viral families implicated in human disease – Previous work on vaccines against MERS enabled CEPI to jump-start COVID-19 vaccine development.
- Establishment of global networks to expand lab capacity, assays, and preclinical models to facilitate new and existing vaccine development and delivery programmes
CEPI’s centralised lab network, open to all COVID-19 vaccine developers, will standardise the evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine candidates and allow researchers to identify the most successful potential vaccines. Supporting the efforts of low- and middle-income countries to take full ownership of their national health security CEPI will work with low and middle income countries to develop the infrastructure and expertise needed to undertake epidemiological and clinical studies, support technology transfer, and strengthen national and regional manufacturing capacity.