The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), in collaboration with the Indian government's Ind-CEPI initiative, has announced a $14.1 million partnership with Bharat Biotech (BBIL) and the International Vaccine Institute to develop a vaccine for chikungunya disease.
First identified in Tanzania in 1952, chikungunya is a viral disease spread by female Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that causes fever, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, rash, and severe joint pain that can persist for weeks or even years. Since the reemergence of the disease in 2004, with climate change often pointed to as an amplifying factor, more than 3.4 million in forty-three countries have been infected.
CEPI's commitment will support the clinical development of BBV87, a two-dose live-inactivated vaccine candidate that has successfully made it through pre-clinical studies. In phase one clinical trials, BBV87 generated a positive immune response, and its safety profile appears to be favorable for special populations such as pregnant women and the immunocompromised. In line with CEPI's core commitment to equitable access, the partnership will build on WHO pre-qualification procedures as well as BBIL's experience in developing and supplying affordable vaccines to ensure broad access to the vaccine in countries where the disease is endemic.
"Vaccination is the most sustainable and cost-effective way of protecting millions of people from chikungunya, a painful disease with no known cure or licensed vaccine," said IVI director general Jerome Kim. "In line with IVI's mission to develop vaccines against diseases that primarily impact low- and middle-income countries, our partnership with Bharat Biotech and CEPI seeks to develop and produce a safe, effective, and affordable vaccine that protects people from the debilitating effects of Chikungunya and enables them to live productive lives."