Announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, a global effort to create new vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, has been officially launched with commitments of $100 million each from the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and an additional $260 million in pledges from the governments of Germany, Japan, and Norway.
The $460 million in commitments means that CEPI has raised nearly half of its five-year, $1 billion goal, and it is now calling for proposals from researchers and companies to support the development of vaccines against its first target diseases, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Lassa fever, and the Nipah virus. With the participation of the private sector, multilateral agencies, and nongovernmental organizations, CEPI will work to develop promising vaccine candidates for each of the diseases within five years, while exploring ways to support vaccines against multiple strains of the Ebola, Marburg, and Zika viruses. It also will fund the development of new vaccine technologies that could be adapted to respond to previously unknown pathogens that emerge suddenly as threats, as Zika did.
The coalition is a response to calls from four independent experts on the Ebola epidemic for a new system for stimulating the rapid development of vaccines in response to "unknown" diseases. According to CEPI, India is in the final stages of making a "significant" commitment to the coalition, which also is backed by the World Health Organization, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders, and leading academic vaccine research groups.
"Just over a year ago, a hundred and ninety-three states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals — the roadmap for the future we want," said Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg. "Epidemics threaten that future. They can ruin societies on a scale only matched by wars and natural disasters. They respect no borders and don’t care if we are rich or poor. Protecting the vulnerable is protecting ourselves. This is why we all must work together to be better prepared — and why my government is fully committed to ensure that CEPI achieves its mission."