The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) on Tuesday said it will provide up to USD 19.3 million (about Rs 149 crore) to Bharat Biotech International, the University of Sydney, and Switzerland-based ExcellGene SA for the development of a “variant- proof” SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate.
CEPI will fund the initiative under its USD 200 million program to advance the development of vaccines that provide broad protection against SARS-Cov-2 variants and other betacoronaviruses.
The funding will support the consortium as it seeks to establish preclinical and clinical proof of concept for an adjuvanted subunit vaccine designed to provide broad protection against all known SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, as well as future variants of the virus which have not yet emerged.
CEPI will fund the researchers to conduct activities including immunogen design, preclinical studies, manufacturing process development and a Phase 1 clinical trial.
“The repeated waves of COVID-19 infection reminding us, we will be living alongside the virus for many years to come. The threat of a new variant emerging that might evade the protection of our current vaccines is real, so investing in R&D for variant -proof SARS-CoV-2 vaccines is a global health security imperative,” CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett said.
He further said: “Our partnership with Bharat Biotech, University of Sydney and ExcellGene will advance the development of a vaccine candidate to protect against future variants of COVID-19, potentially contributing to the long-term control of the virus.” Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella said while the current vaccines are safe and effective against presently known variants, it is imperative that there is a focus on innovation for multi-epitope vaccines, where a single vaccine can protect against all future variants.
“Our expertise in product development and innovation, especially with novel adjuvants and platform technologies will add to a strong partnership with CEPI, ExcellGene, and the University of Sydney,” he added.
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines against future epidemics.
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