In DepthPUBLIC HEALTH

A half-billion-dollar bid to head off emerging diseases

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Science  20 Jan 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6322, pp. 237
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6322.237

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Summary

In the wake of the Ebola crisis that erupted in West Africa in 2014, many public health leaders recognized that a more aggressive effort to develop vaccines could have moved a vaccine forward more quickly and prevented that outbreak from becoming an epidemic. A new organization was formed last year, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), to speed development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases—but it had no serious financial backing. Now, CEPI has attracted nearly a half-billion dollars in funding, as it planned to announce at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust each donated $100 million, and the governments of Norway, Japan, and Germany make up the balance. CEPI also decided to focus initially on three diseases—Lassa, Nipah, and Middle East respiratory syndrome–coronavirus—and it will soon seek proposals from academia and industry to make these vaccines and conduct early phase trials so that they're at the ready for a real-word efficacy test when these pathogens emerge.

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