The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, or CEPI, is awarding up to $140 million in funding to research institutions for clinical data on COVID-19 vaccines.
This initiative aims to fill in existing clinical research and development gaps to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines. The research should be on COVID-19 vaccines that are available to populations in some countries under emergency use approval or conditional licensure or currently in clinical development. The call goes out to COVID-19 vaccine developers, public health organizations, academic institutions, and others with the capacity to research a chosen vaccine.
Despite the success of developing vaccines in such a short time frame, CEPI officials said that several critical clinical research and development gaps need to be urgently addressed to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines. These gaps were identified at a recent WHO consultation meeting. The scope of research in the funding call has been deliberately kept broad to generate a range of new relevant data, in addition to the evidence already produced.
For example, programs supported through this call could advance current COVID-19 immunization efforts by providing data on demographics and age-groups that may not currently be eligible to receive the vaccines — like pregnant and lactating women, infants and children, and those who are immunocompromised. Other potential focal points could include research that aims to identify reliable markers of COVID-19 immunity.
“With multiple safe and effective vaccines beginning to be deployed around the world, we are now building the tools to get us out of this unprecedented crisis,” Melanie Saville, director of vaccine research and development at CEPI, said. “However, we must ensure that we continue to generate the crucial evidence to fill in current clinical research and development gaps and understand how these vaccines and others under development can support special populations, respond to novel variants, influence virus transmission, and prepare us for future vaccination programs, for example, if there is a need for booster doses.”
The call for funding is now open on the CEPI website. The application process is open through May 28. Once awarded, applicants should begin their research programs within three to six months.
CEPI is a partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organizations created to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI has initiated 11 partnerships to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus.