The Innovative Medicines Initiative, a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry, has announced the launch of eight projects aimed at speeding up the development, manufacture, and deployment of Ebola vaccines and diagnostics.
Funded by Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation program, and in-kind contributions from members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, the initiative's Ebola+ program announced an initial round of grants to three projects focused on vaccine development, a project to scale up vaccine manufacture and another that will investigate innovative ways to promote compliance with vaccine regimens, and three projects focused on the development of rapid diagnostic tests. The combined budget of the eight projects is roughly €215 million ($248 million).
Grantees in this funding round include World Vision, which will partner with Janssen Pharmaceutica, Grameen Foundation, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on the Ebola Vaccine Deployment, Acceptance & Compliance project to dispel misconceptions about Ebola and ensure acceptance of a vaccine against the virus in local communities in West Africa as soon as one is developed. The project also will feature a mobile phone platform that sends a reminder to people who received a "prime boost" to return for their second "booster" dose and that will facilitate the tracking of vaccination coverage.
"The concern is that the stigma surrounding Ebola, coupled with a suspicion of vaccines in general, may deter people from getting vaccinated," said Magnus Conteh, World Vision's health and programs coordinator in West and East Africa. "We will work with the communities who know and trust us to develop plans and spread accurate information."