Image Credit: CEPI

Better Know CEPI — The International Partnership That’s Developing a COVID-19 Vaccine for the World

When a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, chances are that my guest today will have had a hand in bringing it into the world.

Richard Hatchett is the CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI. You have probably not heard of CEPI, but it is at the center of the global cooperative effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

CEPI is a young organization — it was created in 2017 in partnership with governments, philanthropies and civil society organizations to support the development of vaccines and medicines for infectious diseases that have the potential to become pandemics. When COVID-19 emerged, CEPI made early investments in vaccine research and development and in building infrastructure around the mass production of a vaccine.

At time of recording, 9 CEPI supported vaccine candidates are in clinical trials. This includes two of the most promising vaccines that are currently in large scale human trials: the Moderna Vaccine and the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine.

International Cooperation and Vaccine Multilateralism is How the World Will Get a COVID-19 Vaccine

What makes CEPI investments unique is that in return for early and ongoing support from CEPI, the drug makers agree to equitable access to the vaccine when it becomes available. In other words, when a CEPI-supported vaccine comes to market it will be accessible to people in poorer and wealthier countries, alike.

The mechanism by which a CEPI supported vaccine will become available to people in both wealthy and less wealthy countries is through another new model of international cooperation called the COVAX  Facility.  (How the COVAX Pillar works to achieve global access to a vaccine will be the subject of Part Two of this series on how the World Will Get a COVID-19 Vaccine.)

These two platforms for global health cooperation —  CEPI and the COVAX Pillar — work in partnership with the World Health Organization, which is at the center of the global response to COVID-19. They are distinct but interrelated. Both are not very well known, but together and with the WHO, they will be responsible for brining a COVID vaccine to most of humanity and ultimately for ending this pandemic.

CEPI and the COVAX Pillar are new models of international cooperation that have been developed to end this pandemic. They stand in contrast to what has become known as vaccine nationalism. This is when governments make side deals with drug manufacturers to provide doses of vaccines for their population, alone. Rather, by pooling resources multi-lateral cooperation

Part one of this series examines how international cooperation and pooling resources through CEPI is accelerating the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Part Two explains how the vaccine will reach people who need it the most around the world once a vaccine is ready for the public.

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