CEPI’s 100-day vaccine mission takes aim at future pandemics

Every single step of the vaccine process needs shortening says CEPI, which is developing a strategy to produce safe and effective vaccines against future threats in just 100 days.

Face-to-face events are well underway, and BioProcess Insider headed to BPI Europe in Vienna, Austria where Anna Särnefält, CMC lead at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), said the key to responding to epidemics and pandemics is preparedness.

The 100 Days Mission is a project that aims to  produce safe and effective vaccines within 100 days of an epidemic or pandemic threat being identified. In total, $1.5 billion has been donated to CEPI, including a pledge of £160 million ($211 million) from the  , donations from the Government of Japan, Norway, USA, Germany, Australia, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome.

Anna Särnefält presenting at BPI Europe Vienna, Austria.

“We need to prepare for whatever poses a threat to become an epidemic or pandemic. We need to stand there ready once it happens. Once we get proof of concept we need to scale up and we need to have the facilities already equipped, validated and staff to be trained so that once you have the construct you are more or less ready to go,” Särnefält said.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted issues with supply chain.

Särnefält spoke about the importance of having a secure supply chain during her presentation, telling attendees “We need to have manufacturing and supply chains established and be prepared. Another thing we will be working on is having regulatory pre-approved chemistry, manufacturing, and controls (CMC) and clinical dossier.”

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued draft guidance to tackle supply chain disruptions, saying that implementing risk management principles should be applied throughout the drug supply chain to help mitigate the risk of shortages.

We can do better

While Särnefält was clear that the successful COVID-19 vaccines are a great achievement, she was keen to say that “We can and should do better next time.”

She said that there is a clear need for a more thermal stable vaccine, as well as improving prediction and monitoring, decreasing the costs for raw materials and manufacturing, which is “another factor affecting global access” to vaccines.

Additionally, Särnefält highlighted the necessity to develop “multiple vaccine platforms and technologies [because] we do not know if messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines will be the [most] suitable vaccine for every pathogen yet.”

At the same event, senior consultant David Loong at Merck KGaA also questioned mRNA’s life beyond COVID, saying that the modality might not become as dominant as its COVID-19 success suggested.