CEPIThe need for speed: Can the world develop future vaccines in 100 days?
The world has dramatically benefited from a game-changing global COVID-19 vaccine response. The first COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use in December 2020, just 326 days after the SARS-CoV-2 virus was identified. Its rapid development and approval were unlike anything else before it.
Previously, the fastest any vaccine had been developed and approved was four years. However, thanks to prior research on other coronaviruses and the use of innovative technology, researchers advanced trials of multiple COVID-19 vaccines at record speed.
But what if we could take this even further?
The 100 Days Mission
CEPI’s aspiration is for the world to safely develop vaccines in 100 days from the moment a pathogen is sequenced and/or the need for a vaccine is recognised, to initial availability for use. Known as the 100 Days Mission, this goal lies at the heart of CEPI’s $3.5bn plan to end pandemics and is also endorsed by the G7.
Achieving this aspiration would give the world a fighting chance of containing an outbreak before it spirals into a pandemic.
If we had developed a COVID-19 vaccine within 100 days, the first injections might have been given in April 2020, when there were just 2.3 million COVID-19 cases, rather than 8th December, when over 68 million people had already been infected.
Faster vaccine development and deployment would not only have saved many of the millions of lives lost to COVID-19, it would have also prevented trillions of dollars of economic damage and limited the emergence of challenging variants we see today.
We must prepare now
We need scientific collaboration, funding, and political will to make this goal a reality.
CEPI is looking at the key elements required to achieve this vision, keeping global equitable access at the heart of everything we do:
- Shortening every step of the vaccine development process. If we combine the best-in-class work from every stage, we could shave off around two months. Think of it as a Formula 1 pitstop. In the 1950s, it took 60 seconds to change a wheel. Thanks to incremental improvements over the years, it now takes just two seconds – because every step has been perfected.
- Completing as many pieces of the puzzle as we can before a new virus emerges. We need to develop a library of ‘prototype vaccines’ against representative viruses that can be swiftly pulled off the shelf and adapted when a new virus emerges, so we don’t lose valuable time creating a new vaccine from scratch.
- Building vaccine manufacturing capacity closer to outbreaks. Having regional manufacturing close to outbreaks will compress the time it takes to get vaccines to those who need them.
- Making a calculated shift in the way we do clinical trials and regulation. The world needs to shift to a new way of regulating vaccines for emergency use – without compromising on safety.
Vaccines are our most potent tools against future pandemics. And to save tomorrow, we must start work on the 100 Days Mission today.
CEPI’s pandemic preparedness summit
The UK Government will host CEPI’s pandemic preparedness summit in March 2022. The event will explore how the world can support the 100-Days goal, with the aim to raise $3.5 billion to support CEPI’s plan to turn the tide against epidemic and pandemic infectious diseases.