Billion-Dollar Plan Will Create A Vaccine Stockpile Before The Next Epidemic

An international coalition has already raised half the money needed to prepare for the next outbreak.

When outbreaks such as the Zika or Ebola virus epidemics occur, doctors around the world find themselves trying to cope with the catastrophic spread of disease, and the sudden spike in demand for vaccinations and treatment options. Supplies quickly run low, leaving drug companies to attempt to match production with demand — a process that is both cost- and time-consuming.

But an international initiative seeks to change all of that. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), launched in Switzerland on January 18 of this year, seeks to raise $1 billion in an effort to create a stockpile of vaccines in preparation for the next epidemic. The coalition has already raised $460 million from the governments of Germany, Norway, and Japan, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and biomedical charity The Wellcome Trust. The group says they aim to raise the remaining money within the next five years.

In a press statement released by the CEPI, Bill Gates evoked the recent Ebola outbreak as evidence of the need for strategic solutions to epidemics.

"Ebola and Zika showed that the world is tragically unprepared to detect local outbreaks and respond quickly enough to prevent them from becoming global pandemics. Without investments in research and development, we will remain unequipped when we face the next threat," Gates said in the statement. "The ability to rapidly develop and deliver vaccines when new 'unknown' diseases emerge offers our best hope to outpace outbreaks, save lives and avert disastrous economic consequences. CEPI is a great example of how supporting innovation and R&D can help the world to address some of its most pressing health challenges."

A video produced by The Wellcome Trust elegantly shows how epidemic impact entire nations and, ultimately, the world, affecting even those who are not infected. 

(H/T: Nature)

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