Belgium allocates 5 million euros for CEPI research into COVID-19

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo will release five million euros for the development of a coronavirus vaccine. These funds will go to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an international alliance of public and private partners, which intends to accelerate the development of a vaccine against COVID-19. Virologist Peter Piot, one of the founders of CEPI, welcomes the Belgian effort.

CEPI will use funds to finance clinical studies (phase I-IV) and to improve global production capacity. CEPI aims to ultimately select at least three candidate vaccines against COVID-19 which can be submitted to the pharmaceutical authorities for approval and official registration.

No time to lose

“This deadly coronavirus is spreading very fast. If we are to save human lives, we must also speed up the development of vaccines. CEPI’s ambition is to carry out clinical trials within four months. This is significantly shorter than usual. We have no time to lose,” according to Alexander De Croo.

Belgium joined CEPI at the initiative of Minister De Croo in 2017. This global coalition aims to facilitate the availability of new vaccines against emerging infectious diseases in order to reduce the risk of future pandemics in the world. CEPI is currently working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), which is leading the way for a coordinated international response to COVID-19.

Belgians in action

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Coalition (CEPI) was founded three years ago by states such as Norway and Japan, foundations like the Wellcome Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum. According to the WHO, a multilateral public-private partnership is the most effective way to accelerate research and development.

The Belgians Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Paul Stoffels, scientific director of Johnson & Johnson, are two of the driving forces behind CEPI.

Peter Piot: "Today, it’s all hands on deck across the world to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 as soon as possible. Only then will we be able to say that we have really defeated the virus. CEPI plays a central role in this regard as an international coalition of public and private partners. The Belgian contribution will speed up the research to find a vaccine."

Least developed countries

The accession of Belgium to CEPI is in line with the efforts made by the Belgian Development Cooperation during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Deadly infectious diseases are more common in the poorest countries, but today CEPI is working to design a vaccine that can be used anywhere in the world. CEPI will ensure that the vaccines which will be developed remain affordable for the poorest countries.