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New Scheme Aims To Get Vaccines To Outbreaks Faster: Gavi

Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) are teaming up to investigate stockpiling experimental vaccines for rare infectious diseases so the shots can be tested more quickly when outbreaks happen

New Scheme Aims To Get Vaccines To Outbreaks Faster: Gavi
Stockpiling of experimental vaccines will focus initially on Marburg and the Sudan strain of Ebola

London: Three global health bodies are teaming up to investigate stockpiling experimental vaccines for rare infectious diseases so the shots can be tested more quickly when outbreaks happen, a top official from vaccine alliance Gavi told Reuters. The initiative will be led by Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and is likely to be announced later on Tuesday after Gavi’s board approved it at a meeting earlier in the day.

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It will focus initially on Marburg and the Sudan strain of Ebola, after outbreaks of the two deadly viral haemorrhagic fevers in Africa last year. There are no existing vaccines or proven treatments available for either of the infections.

If successful, the scheme – known as the global virtual pooled inventory (GVPI) – could be a pilot for other deadly diseases and wider pandemic preparedness, officials said, which are an increasing threat due to factors like climate change.

In Uganda last year, 55 people died in the Ebola outbreak and there were 142 confirmed cases, according to WHO. Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania saw 25 confirmed Marburg cases and 18 deaths in total. There were a further 23 probable cases, all of whom died, in Equatorial Guinea, which had never experienced Marburg before.

While the governments moved fast with global partners to try to set up human trials of new vaccines, the outbreaks were halted with other public health measures, like testing and isolating patients, before trials could properly begin.

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While that speed clearly saved lives, it also meant that the world was not really any closer to having effective vaccines available to help tackle future outbreaks, said Aurelia Nguyen, chief programme strategy officer at Gavi.

“We’ve had the lesson with Ebola Sudan and with Marburg,” she told Reuters. “Think about a mechanism where we have the ability to secure some doses of an investigational vaccine … in a way that actually gets us ahead of the outbreak.”

The details of the plan are still being worked out, but Nguyen said it could work with Gavi and partners agreeing deals ahead of time, where manufacturers commit to providing a certain number of vaccine doses very quickly when outbreaks begin. A similar model worked for another Ebola strain, Zaire.

Vaccines for Ebola Sudan are under development by companies and researchers including Oxford University and the Serum Institute of India as well as the International Aids Vaccine Institute (IAVI) and Merck, and the Sabin Institute. The latter is also working on a Marburg vaccine, among other companies and institutions.

Vaccines would need to have been tested for safety and whether they induced an immune response in humans – usually phase II trials – before being included in the stockpile, said Nguyen.

Also Read: Equitable Access To Vaccines Could Have Prevented More Than Half Of Global Covid Deaths: Study

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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