The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, a global effort to develop new vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, has announced a grant of up to $25 million to Profectus BioSciences, Inc. and Emergent BioSolutions Inc. to develop and manufacture a vaccine against the Nipah virus.
Launched in 2017 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, CEPI will provide development funding over five years to Profectus BioSciences, with Emergent BioSolutions providing technical and manufacturing support to the effort. Under a separate agreement with CEPI, the global health nonprofit PATH will support the project's clinical development. According to CEPI, the investment represents an approach to vaccine development designed to ensure that vaccines are ready for efficacy studies during an outbreak.
The bat-borne Nipah virus is closely related to the paramyxoviruses that cause respiratory and encephalitis diseases in a variety of animal hosts and humans and can be spread from livestock to humans, as well as from humans to humans. There is currently no approved vaccine or therapeutic against NiV, and the mortality rate is approximately 75 percent. In 1999, an NiV outbreak killed more than a hundred people in Malaysia, while outbreaks occur annually in Bangladesh and have been reported in India, where ten people have died in a current outbreak in the state of Kerala.
"The current outbreak of Nipah in India, the government of which is one of CEPI's founders, demonstrates that this is a deadly pathogen that has already traveled thousands of kilometers, has serious epidemic potential, and the ability to surprise us," said Richard Hatchett, chief executive of CEPI. "This is the first funding agreement we have signed to develop a vaccine against Nipah, and our partnership with Profectus, Emergent, and PATH represents a vital move forward in the global battle against this devastating disease."
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