In July 2022 CEPI announced that it would provide $375,000 to the MHRA and UKHSA to “support the development of key laboratory tools to advance and standardise assessment of vaccines used to protect against monkeypox”. Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, expressed a desire to invest in “tools to support the array of potential developers”. He stressed the importance of “early actions” in pushing research and development forward in line with fast-moving diseases.
Monkeypox, declared a PHEIC, continues to spread globally with increasing demand on a limited supply of vaccine doses. CEPI’s contribution will go towards assays and a “reference antibody standard”. This is intended to “harmonise how different laboratories assess the strength and duration of immune responses” to current and developing vaccines. The goal is to make these tools “freely available”, except for admin fees.
CEPI states that assays would enable scientists to “determine whether or not a vaccine has generated an immune response”. Following this, an antibody standard would provide an insight into “whether that antibody response provides a sufficient level of protection against the current circulating monkeypox strain.”
“Data generated from their use will help to inform current vaccine development and deployment strategies, while also supporting the development and evaluation of monkeypox diagnostics.”
This funding is part of CEPI’s “Transform pillar” of pandemic preparedness. This “seeks to invest and scale critical enabling programmes to further accelerate vaccine development and deployment”. Although monkeypox vaccines are already licensed in some countries, deployment has been ineffective so far. Furthermore, as we explored in a previous article, “more data are needed” to demonstrate the protection afforded in human populations.
Dr Isabel Oliver, Chief Scientific Advisor at UKHSA, is relying on “international cooperation” to develop tools against monkeypox. She stated that “accurate testing and strong surveillance” will be needed to monitor the efficacy of vaccines and “inform public health policy”. The pressure is on to use this investment to develop a swift and effective approach.
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