The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) announced this week that it will invest up to $200 million into promising vaccine candidates for SARS-CoV-2 and Betacoronavirus, following a call for proposals.
This funding will carry candidates through to clinical proof of concept and forms one part of a longer-term, $3.5 billion investment strategy by the coalition in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While SARS-CoV-2 is the specific virus that causes COVID-19, it is itself a Betacoronavirus, a type of coronavirus that has also caused deadly epidemics like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
“The emergence of a coronavirus combining the transmissibility of COVID-19 with the lethality of SARS or MERS would be devastating to civilization,” Melanie Saville, director of vaccine research and development for CEPI, said. “Finding solutions to mitigate the threat posed by coronaviruses is thus an issue of the greatest global urgency. CEPI aims to build on the technological advances that have been made in response to COVID-19 to develop an all-encompassing vaccine that could work against known Betacoronaviruses, including SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, and could potentially be used to quickly suppress future outbreaks of other novel coronaviruses that might jump into the human population.”
The current call for proposals will primarily support the research and development of novel immunogens for use in vaccines to create durable, broadly protective immune responses. Proposals can come from any research and development organizations worldwide, so long as they have expertise in vaccine development. CEPI is particularly interested in broadly protective Betacoronavirus vaccines and vaccines capable of fighting emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants.
CEPI believes that the urgency for this has only grown with the emergence of several COVID-19 variants that are posing greater transmissibility and vaccine resistance issues.