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Saturday, January 16th, 2021

USAID offers $20M in aid to CEPI for infectious diseases vaccine development

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The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) gained a $20 million investment from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) last week to support the development of vaccines targeting emerging infectious diseases.

These funds will be provided over a five year period, subject to Congressional approval each year, to support CEPI’s development programs for several specific diseases, including Lassa fever, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, Nipah, Chikungunya, Rift Valley Fever, and Ebola. They will also help progress novel vaccine platform technologies for the rapid development of countermeasures to unknown pathogens. This latter effort is already targeting COVID-19.

“As COVID-19 has shown, emerging infectious diseases affect us all – they do not respect borders,” CEPI COE Richard Hatchett said. “This will not be the last pandemic threat we face this century, so we need to work together to ensure that the world is collectively prepared to respond to future outbreaks of known and unknown pathogens. USAID and the broader US Government’s investment in vaccine innovation have already made huge progress in tackling recent outbreaks of Ebola, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic through Operation Warp Speed. This partnership will, therefore, be crucial to continue to support leading vaccine research that will strengthen the world’s ability to respond to future epidemics.”

COVID-19 has infected more than 43 million people since it first appeared in December 2019 and killed more than 1.1 million. Of these, more than 8.6 million cases have appeared in the United States alone. The disease has prompted many to look ahead to preparations that might stave off health future disasters.

CEPI itself was set up in response to the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Its goal then is to spur the development of vaccines for use against emerging infectious diseases and help at-risk populations get what they needed, regardless of ability to pay. The organization is still seeking another $800 million to hit its goal for a COVID-19 vaccine portfolio and increase the odds of finding a safe and effective countermeasure.

“As an innovative global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organizations, CEPI is exactly the kind of partner with which USAID looks to collaborate,” Dr. Alma Golden, USAID’s Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Global Health, said. “CEPI’s critical work to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable access to these vaccines during outbreaks will be an important contribution to the U.S. Government’s efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, as defined by the U.S. Global Health Security Strategy.”