scheme commits $350 million to research Ebola vaccines and tests
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[November 06, 2014]
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON (Reuters) - The Europe Union and
drugmakers pledged on Thursday to invest 280 million euros ($350
million) into Ebola research, with the lion's share going to fast-track
the testing and manufacture of potential vaccines.
The funding will go to projects backed by the Innovative Medicines
Initiative (IMI), a public-private scheme jointly paid for by the
European Commission and the pharmaceuticals industry.
Reuters reported on Oct. 22 that an IMI investment of around 200
million euros was pending. Since then there have been further
discussions about the resources needed for various projects and the
amount has been increased.
The final document setting out the plans commits the European
Commission to giving up to 140 million euros, with companies
providing an equivalent amount in staff time, goods and services.
"The EU is determined to help find a solution to Ebola. We are
putting our money where our mouth is and boosting EU research on
Ebola with an additional 280 million euros," said Carlos Moedas,
European Commissioner for research.
The move shows how momentum is building to get medical
interventions, especially vaccines, to West Africa as soon as
possible to try to control the world's worst Ebola outbreak, which
has killed nearly 5,000 people, according to official data. Many
experts believe the true death toll is a lot higher.
With a total budget of 3.3 billion euros for the period 2014 to
2024, Europe's IMI scheme is the world's biggest
public-private-partnership in the life sciences arena.
It was launched in 2008 and has 46 ongoing projects, some of which
are focused on specific health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease,
cancer and obesity. Others involve work on broader challenges in
In the case of Ebola, five urgent projects have been identified
involving the three stages of vaccine clinical trials; vaccine
manufacturing; vaccine transport and storage; regimens for
vaccination deployment; and rapid diagnostic tests.
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The aim is to head off some of the technical obstacles that public
health officials, governments and drugmakers are grappling with as
they race to develop the world's first Ebola vaccines in record
The challenges include finding sufficient vaccine manufacturing and
filling capacity, getting accelerated clinical trial results,
winning rapid regulatory approvals and building a supply chain in
Africa for products that must be stored at ultra-low temperatures.
Two leading vaccine candidates from GlaxoSmithKline and NewLink
Genetics are already in human safety trials, and another five should
begin testing in the first quarter of next year. One from Johnson &
Johnson will start trials in January.
The three leading companies hope to make millions of doses over the
course of 2015.
(Editing by Kate Kelland)
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