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CEPI: let’s protect ourselves against future pandemics

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is an innovative global partnership that invests in vaccine development to stop future epidemics.

The partnership supports the coordination of global initiatives to enable equitable access to vaccines. Cordaid supports CEPI’s work through its Global Health, Global Access programme, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Why invest in epidemic preparedness?

COVID-19 has taught us that a combination of environmental changes, increasing population density and human mobility is the perfect breeding ground for a virus to thrive to pandemic levels.

Back in 2020, the world was largely unprepared to face the rapid spread of a new virus, resulting not only in over 2.5 million deaths, but also 400 million jobs lost and an estimated loss of $4.1 trillion over the next 5 years for the global economy.

The pandemic pushed thousands of people into poverty, exacerbated gender and racial inequalities, and reversed decades of efforts to advance progress against other killer diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

This catastrophe has brought attention to the urgent need to strengthen our capacity to respond to emerging infectious diseases and to stop them before ever reaching epidemic and pandemic levels. The mission of CEPI is to ensure epidemics will no longer pose a threat to our future.

How does CEPI work?

CEPI funds and creates partnerships between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations to develop vaccines against known diseases that have the potential to turn into epidemics, such as Lassa, MERS, Rift Valley Fever, Ebola, and Nipah.

They also invest in platform technologies that can enable the rapid development of vaccines against new and unknown pathogens. Additionally, CEPI coordinates global initiatives to improve our collective response to epidemics. A well-known example of this is COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative.

Accelerating the end of COVID-19

When COVID-19 emerged in January 2020, CEPI moved quickly to accelerate vaccine development and delivery based on their pre-existing work on coronavirus vaccines.

In the space of five months, CEPI invested in a diverse portfolio of 14 COVID-19 vaccines, including the Moderna, Novavax, and AstraZeneca vaccines, making it the world’s largest portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines.

CEPI was instrumental in the co-creation of COVAX, delivering more than 989 million doses to 144 countries and economies (as of January 13, 2021) – from remote islands to war zones.

The coalition has also initiated two partnerships on research and development for ‘variant-proof’ COVID-19 vaccines.

What is the role of the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has a strong legacy in the field of immunisation and significantly participated in making vaccines one of our most powerful tools to outsmart epidemics today. It has the expert knowledge and capacity to support unprecedented efforts in vaccine development to improve global collective actions to respond to pandemics.

In a historic period in which the need for vaccines has become more urgent than ever, Cordaid calls on the Netherlands to step up its contribution to CEPI and support its $3.5bn plan to protect our world from current and future epidemics.