CEPI backed by Bill Gates raises funds to combat epidemics
CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, have launched the beginning of its fundraising initiative – with the aim of reaching a figure of $1 billion in the next five years. This proposal began well as it launched the funding drive with $460 million of funding already secured. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, alongside the Wellcome Trust, have pledged $100 million over five years towards the fund.
CEPI aims to better prepare the world for future epidemics by targeting specific viruses that have the potential to reach epidemic level. The first targets will be Middle East Respiratory Syndrome MERS-CoV, Lassa and Nipah viruses, with the target to develop two potential vaccines for each virus.
The emergence of CEPI was spurred by the recent Ebola outbreak, an epidemic that claimed 11,315 lives at the last count around this time last year. There were already experimental vaccines developed for Ebola but they had not been tested on humans. This meant that, during the worst of the crisis, the vaccines had go through the notoriously slow clinical trial process. This process took around 9-12 months and meant that many people were not able to receive potentially life-saving treatment.
The aim is to have a bank of vaccines that are ready for use before an outbreak happens, thereby being able to nip in the bud any outbreaks before they can reach epidemic level.
“We can take the same type of approach we use to prepare for military situations,” Gates said in a discussion with CBS, “We can say, ‘Hey, is there standby capacity? Do people train and drill on these things? And how would the coordination work?’ And we haven’t invested enough in trying to minimize the damage.”
The fundraising then forms a key part of being able to better prepare the world for further outbreaks. Already government from Norway, Japan, Germany have pledged money alongside the Wellcome Trust and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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