Historically, vaccine development has been a long, risky, and costly endeavour. Currently, it takes years, even decades, to test the safety and efficacy of a vaccine in humans—this simply isn’t fast enough to respond to a global crisis.
The WHO has prioritised a number of diseases that pose a significant public health risk because of their epidemic potential and because there are no or insufficient biomedical countermeasures available against these diseases. “Disease X” is also on this list of priority diseases. “Disease X” represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.
To help the world quickly respond to an unknown pathogen, CEPI plans to fund the development of new vaccine platform technologies so that we can rapidly manufacture vaccines against many different types of disease.
Techniques for platform vaccine manufacturing use established processes that are based on similar vaccines. Over time, as regulatory authorities gain experience with and gather data on a platform through its use with different vaccines, they will likely become more comfortable about rapidly moving new vaccines developed on such platforms into clinical trials (this has been the case with flu vaccines, which are developed every year on an existing platform).
CEPI’s goal is to be able to start vaccine safety testing within months of a new pathogen being genetically sequenced.
If we can hone these technologies and refine the platform manufacturing approach, we will move closer to being able to create vaccines against epidemic infectious diseases ‘just-in-time’, within weeks instead of years—enabling the world to respond quickly and control epidemic threats.
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