CEPI says funding gap of $2 billion could hamper COVID-19 vaccine development

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) put out a call on Friday for $2 billion in new funding to support the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. "It is increasingly clear that containment measures for COVID-19 can only slow down its spread and the virus is now entering a stage of unprecedented threat in terms of its global impact," remarked CEO Richard Hatchett, adding that a vaccine was key to longer-term control.

CEPI said the additional funds would allow it to expand the number of vaccine candidates at the outset and support clinical testing for these candidates, with the aim of having at least three that could be submitted to regulatory authorities for general use as well as use during outbreaks. The coalition is already partnering with companies, including Moderna, Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline in a bid to speed up development of a vaccine against the virus.

According to Hatchett, CEPI has committed $100 million of its own funds and moved to initiate a development programme with the goal of having vaccine candidates in early-stage clinical trials in as little as 16 weeks. However, he warned that "these funds will be fully allocated by the end of March," and without more financial contribution, "the vaccine programmes we have begun will not be able to progress."

The group identified five funding phases, starting with an immediate infusion of $100 million to see eight vaccine candidates through Phase I testing, as well as another $375 million by the end of the month to prepare Phase II/III trials for four to six candidates and ramp up global manufacturing capacity. Additional allotments of $400 million each by the end of June and September would go towards conducting the Phase II/III trials, as well as large-scale manufacturing capacity for at least three vaccine candidates.

For 2021, CEPI estimates that another $500 million to $750 million would finance completing the clinical testing process and preparing regulatory dossiers for emergency authorisation and licensure submission.

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