Though headlines are currently dominated by the development of vaccines for the novel coronavirus, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) continues to support the work against preventing the spread of lesser known infectious diseases.
Announced yesterday, CEPI stated that it would be providing funding worth $14.1m (€12.5m) to a consortium comprised of Bharat Biotech (BBIL) and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) to support the development of a vaccine against the Chikungunya virus.
The capital has been provided to increase manufacturing capabilities for BBIL’s vaccine candidate, BBV87, and to aid its clinical development.
In addition, the Indian Government will provide a further $2m to set up manufacturing facilities for the vaccine in India.
With the funding in place, a multi-center Phase II/III clinical trial will be conducted by IVI in Colombia, Panama, and Thailand.
BBV87 is an inactivated whole virion vaccine, which has already completed preclinical studies and achieved an immune response through an adjuvanted vaccine in Phase I trials that took place in India.
An emerging threat
As for why CEPI is funding against this particular infectious disease, the organization stated that climate change could “further amplify the threat posed by Chikungunya.”
There are concerns that the warming climate could allow the mosquitoes that transfer the virus to spread to other areas of the world, increasing the risk of infection for larger portions of the human population.
The virus was first identified in Tanzania in 1952 following sporadic outbreaks, but reemerged in 2004, with cases reported globally. In recent years, there have been outbreaks in Italy and in the US.
At present, there are no vaccines or treatments against the virus available, so the only option to slow the spread of the virus is prevention of mosquito bites.
Though the virus is not usually fatal, symptoms include fever and joint pain – once infected, the joint pain associated with the virus can last for years.
CEPI called into action
The need to address potential public health threats, in the form of infectious diseases, has never been stronger, with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
CEPI has been at the forefront of efforts to push forward various efforts against the virus, such as providing Novavax its record investment to date, with a single sum of $388m provided.
In turn, Novavax was able to expand manufacturing capacity for its lead vaccine against COVID-19 through a $167m acquisition.
Broader than this, CEPI made a call for proposals to the biopharma industry, offering to provide funding to any vaccine for the pandemic that could be quickly scaled-up in the next 12-18 months.
The organization offered to help any company applying by aiding in global developments plans, organizing large-scale clinical trials, or widening geographic manufacturing footprint.