With an initial investment of $460 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Britain's Wellcome Trust, and the governments of Japan, Norway, and Germany, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It will finance and coordinate the development of new vaccines to prevent epidemics and will focus initially on vaccines against Lassa virus, Nipah virus, and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). These viruses were chosen rather than Zika or Ebola virus because considerable efforts at developing vaccines for these viruses are already underway, and there are little to no effective treatments for Lassa, Nipah, or MERS infections.
CEPI is the result of discussions about epidemic preparedness in the aftermath of the 2014 Ebola epidemic. These discussions began with a meeting involving Angela Merkel and Bill Gates, followed by a number of proposals for a global vaccine development fund.
The initiative will "build technical and institutional platforms to accelerate R&D response ... to pathogen emergencies." A key focus is to ensure that the vaccines are accessible to those who need them, rather than prioritizing vaccines that have the biggest market.