• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Partnerships and race for Coronavirus vaccine

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The world entered a new era, with the declaration by the World Health Organization of COVID-19 as a widespread pandemic. But, there are ways the world, including the World Economic Forum and its partners, are responding with strength.

This week the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), announced its seventh COVID-19 vaccine project. The organization will be investing an initial US$620,000 in a partnering agreement with The University of Hong Kong (HKU) to rapidly develop a vaccine candidate against COVID-19.

The first Phase 1 study for a COVID-19 vaccine, which has received funding support from CEPI, also began vaccinating volunteers this week.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched in 2017 at the Forum’s Annual Meeting – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and to enable access to these vaccines during outbreaks.

Our world has entered a new era of pandemic and epidemic risk. The number of outbreaks is increasing, and the economic damage and fear they create is disproportionate to the level of illness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the world, reflecting our global hyper-connectivity and the development of higher density cities. As a result, societies are becoming more vulnerable to the disruptions that epidemics and pandemics cause.

CEPI was conceived by public and private-industry partners representing global vaccine manufacturers who met at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016 in response to the ramifications of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. $460 million in initial funding was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Governments of Germany, Japan and Norway, and further commitments were made to create a total of $800 million.

To date, CEPI has committed to investing more than $480 million in vaccine development. CEPI’s priority diseases include Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever virus and Chikungunya virus. CEPI also invests in innovative platform technologies that can be used for rapid vaccine and immunoprophylactic development against unknown pathogens (e.g. Disease X).

With CEPI’s innovative investment in rapid-response platforms to quickly advance vaccines against Disease X, the organisation has been able to move rapidly and in coordination with global health partners, to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through swift action and a global call for proposals, CEPI has to date provided initial funding to a wide range of vaccine technologies with its partners to rapidly develop COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Moderna began the first Phase 1 study using a COVID-19 vaccine candidate earlier this week. To achieve their goal CEPI requires urgent collective action to make sure sufficient funds are available to advance its programmes.

Coalitions like CEPI are made possible through public-private partnerships. The World Economic Forum is the trusted global platform for stakeholder engagement, bringing together a range of multistakeholders from business, government and civil society to improve the state of the world.