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Developing a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates for Rift Valley Fever, Chikungunya and Ebola

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ECRC (Developing a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates for Rift Valley Fever, Chikungunya and Ebola)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-10-31

CEPI is an international organisation whose mission is to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable equitable access to these vaccines for affected populations during outbreaks. Having previously invested in vaccine development efforts against Nipah, Lassa and MERS and platform technologies, CEPI was in late 2018 looking into expanding its number of priority diseases to include Rift valley fever virus (RVF) and Chikungunya virus (CHIKV).

It was CEPI’s Scientific Advisory Committee that advised these two diseases to be prioritised. The decision to fund the development of vaccines against RVF and CHIKV was based on the risk of outbreaks, feasibility of vaccine development and the potential public health impact of vaccines against these diseases. While vaccines against both viruses appear to be technically feasible, the commercial prospects for vaccines against Rift Valley fever are non-existent and for Chikungunya, uncertain at best. RVF disease was included among the WHO R&D Blueprint list of priority pathogens in 2018, while CHIK disease was deemed to present major public health risks for which “further research and development is needed” and would require “efforts in the interim to understand and mitigate the public health risks”.

Funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 - Work Programme 2018-2020 for Health, demographic change and wellbeing, enabled CEPI to launch a Calls for Proposals for CHIKV and RVF in January 2019. Additionally, the same funding stream supports CEPI’s response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak where EC funding will be channelled towards supporting the clinical development of a second vaccine candidate.

The funding from the Work Programme has enabled the development of vaccines against diseases that are of particular concern to low-income countries and will greatly help to prevent or contain associated epidemics. The EC-CEPI co-investment therefore contributes to the EU’s development policy by addressing some of the root causes of the detrimental effects we’ve seen on human lives and economic losses due to RVF and Chikungunya. This also aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By helping to strengthen the capacity for reduction and management of national and global health risks, CEPI's investments in priority diseases will, with the EU’s support, help contribute to SDG3 (“Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”). The same is true for SDG8 (“Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth”): stopping outbreaks before they cause widespread mortality and disruption, will avoid potential negative effects on economic growth. CEPI’s inclusive and collaborative approach to activities, also “encourage(s) and promote(s) effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships”, thus also aligning with SDG17 (“Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”)

Please see cepi.net for further details about the progress of the most recent call relating to Chikungunya and Rift Valley Fever (termed “CfP3i).
The Call for Proposals was successfully published January 7 2019, closing 60 days later. Following due diligence and contract negotiations, CEPI has as of December 11 entered into partnership agreements with four applicants.

EC funds will also be directed towards the clinical development of a second vaccine candidate against Ebola for use in the continuing outbreak in the DRC.
The four entities that have been awarded funds are all progressing according to plan, and additional partnership agreements may also be entered into. Project timelines have a duration of between ~12-18 months, suggesting that CEPI will be able to assess firm results autumn 2020.

Funding for Chikungunya (two awards) is directed towards advanced clinical development in which the Awardees will work towards Phase III clinical trials with a view to final licensure. Currently, there is little commercial support to take these advanced vaccine candidates “across the line” and into registration, although there is a clear medical unmet need for these products.

Rift Valley Fever projects (two awards) are at an earlier stage and more aligned with CEPI’s previous work in which advanced preclinical candidates are taken through GMP manufacture and into Phase I and II clinical trials. By the end of the first funding period, it is anticipated that both projects will have produced clinical grade material and at least one clinical trial will have been completed. A review will then be held before further funding is released.
Front page of CEPI's website
Shows details from when the CFP3 was launched, and that its launch was enabled by EC support
Shows that EC has contibuted to CEPI, ant that we've launched CFP on RVF and CHIKV