CEPI’s ambitious plan to vaccinate the world

June 29, 2020
We’re starting this holiday week with a closer look at CEPI’s big announcement on Friday, plus a deep dive into zoonotic diseases—including some you may never heard of before. Here are 917 words, around 4 and a half minutes.

We’re starting this holiday week with a closer look at CEPI’s big announcement on Friday, plus a deep dive into zoonotic diseases—including some you may never heard of before. Here are 917 words, around 4 and a half minutes.

CEPI’s ambitious plan to vaccinate the world

On Friday, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced the launch of the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility “to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, at all levels of development, that wish to participate.” Details below. 

How it works: “Countries will be offered ‘shares’ of the nine candidate vaccines that CEPI is supporting, as well as other vaccines the consortium may end up purchasing. The idea is that because it is not known which vaccines will be successful, purchasing shares in a pool—to be called the COVAX facility—will broaden a country’s chances of having access to vaccines,” explains STAT News

CEPI’s vaccines include projects by BIO members Moderna, Inovio, GSK, Novavax, and CSL. 

The end goal: 500 million diagnostic tests and 245 million courses of treatments by mid-2021, and 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021, which will go to high-risk populations.

And half of the doses will go to low- to middle-income countries.

They need $31.3 billion over the next year, which includes $18.1 billion for vaccines. They’ve already gotten $3.4 billion, according to the ACT-Accelerator’s investment case.

That sounds like a lot of cash, BUT “the total cost of the ACT-Accelerator’s work is less than a tenth of what the IMF estimates the global economy is losing every month due to the pandemic,” says the World Health Organization

What they’re saying: “If we are to end this pandemic, we need to stamp out the coronavirus everywhere, not just in the countries that can afford to procure large volumes of a vaccine,” said Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI. “With the launch of COVAX, we have a real chance to end this pandemic, but only if governments take a global approach to how they allocate funds for vaccine development, manufacturing, and distribution.”


More Health Care News:

Bloomberg: Second-generation COVID vaccines are built for impact over speed
“They may not cross the finish line first, but dozens of companies and universities still see an opening for inoculations that prevent more infections, provide lasting immunity, protect older and more vulnerable people, yield massive quantities or ship easily throughout the world. Those are benefits the front-runners may not be able to deliver.” 

The Wall Street Journal: Drug-hunter chases coronavirus treatment as pandemic spreads
“Christos Kyratsous, who heads the infectious-diseases research team at biotech Regeneron, is the leader of one of the most advanced efforts to design a drug that can lance COVID-19.”

Why zoonotic diseases aren't going away

Over the weekend, we finally got the chance to sit down with this long read from The New York Times about our growing zoonotic disease problem—and what we can do about it.

“Between 60 and 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans come from other animals,” says The New York Times, including familiar diseases (rabies, Lyme, SARS, Ebola, West Nile, Zika, COVID-19) as well as some you might not know, like Q fever, orf, Rift Valley fever, and Kyasanur Forest disease.

And here’s the thing: “Zoonotic pathogens do not typically seek us out nor do they stumble onto us by pure coincidence. When diseases move from animals to humans, and vice versa, it is usually because we have reconfigured our shared ecosystems in ways that make the transition much more likely.”

And the problem is getting worse—primarily due to massive population growth and wildlife trade.

This is good writing: “[T]he frequency and severity of zoonotic outbreaks in human populations cannot be explained by chance alone. We have linked the reservoirs of unfamiliar pathogens to our own through vast networks of accidental tributaries. We plunge our nets into the native pools of exotic creatures and fling what we catch into once impossible congregations, allowing their microbes to mingle and mutate. We fill our hinterlands with artificial oceans of pigs and poultry, which become mixing vessels for viruses from humans, livestock and wildlife. We drain the world’s biological basins of the diversity that would ordinarily keep contagions in check. Other animals’ diseases have not so much leapt onto us as flowed into us through channels we supplied.”

What they’re saying: “We need to stop looking at people in a vacuum,” said Jonathan Epstein, VP for Science and Outreach at the EcoHealth Alliance. “Everything we do to disrupt natural systems, to manipulate the environment around us, influences our own health. We haven’t thought about that carefully enough.” 

So, what can we do? For starters, we can enact One Health policies to explore the links between human, animal, and environmental health—helping us understand this pandemic and the next one. The bipartisan One Health legislation on the table would be a good place to start.

Read the whole thing to learn about lesser-known zoonotic diseases, why bats are common vectors, and whether it’s possible to eliminate zoonotic diseases entirely. (Spoiler: It’s not—yet another reason why we need One Health.)


More Agriculture and Environment News:

POLITICO Pro: U.S. food exporters balk at China demand for coronavirus-free pledge
“U.S. food exporters are balking at a request from China to assure their products are free from the novel coronavirus after the Asian nation suspended chicken imports from an Alabama plant and asked some foreign trading partners to pledge their products are safe.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Monday: Not much on the agenda today aside from lunch with VP Pence. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The Senate is aiming to pass the National Defense Authorization Act before the holiday weekend, reports POLITICO Day Ahead. Meanwhile, the House is taking up the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425), which would expand coverage through the ACA, according to PBS.

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