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Saturday, February 4th, 2023

CEPI extends VBI Vaccines partnership for development of multivalent coronavirus vaccine

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A partnership between VBI Vaccines Inc. and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) expanded this week with a new development agreement seeking the development of multivalent coronavirus shots for use against multiple coronavirus threats.

Based on VBI’s proprietary enveloped virus-like particle (eVLP) technology platform, the development will pursue vaccines capable of broad protection against multiple variants of the coronavirus, from COVID-19 to the future, as-yet-unknown potential of a Coronavirus X. If it has pandemic potential within it, the partners would like a vaccine capable of dealing with it, and CEPI expanded the scope of a $33 million investment into VBI to make it so.

“As we approach the third anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic under the continued threat of new variants, we are determined to focus on the critical goal of developing future-proof coronavirus vaccines that will put the world ahead of this and other pandemic threats,” Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, said. “The world must continue to evolve our science to keep pace with the virus and produce new and better medical countermeasures. Variant-proof and pan-coronavirus vaccines, if we can develop them, will be critical tools protecting us from variants that don’t even exist yet and ideally creating more durable immunity than current vaccines. VBI’s eVLP technology is one such promising vaccine platform that could one day help protect the world against these and other new infectious disease threats.”

Jeff Baxter, CEO and president of VBI, added that their approach is a natural one to find long-term COVID-19 protection, given the emergence of multiple subvariants with immunities and resistances to existing measures. It’s a pro-active, rather than reactive, approach. CEPI will optimize the eVLP platform used for this approach and aid VBI as it scales up manufacturing.

The platform will utilize multiple antigens and mimic the natural form of the virus to make its mark. Multiple candidates have been developed, including three already in clinical development. Designed to trigger potent immune responses, two of these candidates have already shown safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity against coronaviruses, while a third should offer interim data in mid-2023.

“We have long recognized the public health value that multivalent vaccines capable of anticipating new variants and coronavirus strains could provide,” Baxter said. “We are grateful to CEPI for their continued support and our ongoing partnership as we optimize our technology to create vaccines that are capable of eliciting safe, durable, and broadly reactive immune responses.”

The vaccine program was developed through collaborations between VBI and CEPI, as well as the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Government of Canada. By working with CEPI, VBI has already agreed to make produced vaccine candidates available during outbreaks for at-risk populations, including those in low and middle-income countries, at low but commercially sustainable prices.