Saturday 7 March 2020 12:34 pm

Coronavirus: $2bn needed to develop Covid-19 vaccine, says epidemic response group

An epidemic response group set up to fight diseases such as the coronavirus has called for $2bn (£1.5bn) to support the development of a vaccine for Covid-19.

The global movement, known as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), has said the outbreak is an “unprecedented threat in terms of its global impact”.

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The group said containment measures should help slow the spread of coronavirus, but that a vaccine was key to longer-term control.

“It is increasingly clear that containment measures for COVID-19 can only slow down its spread and the virus is now entering a stage of unprecedented threat in terms of its global impact,” said CEPI’s chief executive Richard Hatchett 

“It is critical that we … invest in the development of a vaccine that will prevent people from getting sick.” 

The CEPI said it would pour $100m into beginning a vaccine development programme after just weeks of the initial outbreak.

It had the aim of reaching clinical trials within as little as 16 weeks.

However, it has said these funds will have be completely used by the end of March and as such could not deliver the vaccine.

“Without immediate additional financial contributions the vaccine programs we have begun will not be able to progress and ultimately will not deliver the vaccines that the world needs,” Hatchett said. 

The global epidemic fighting group was founded in 2017 and received funding of $460m from governments of Germany, Japan and Norway, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust global health charity.

Its purpose was to speed up the process of developing vaccines against new and unknown diseases. 

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The UK announced on Friday it would provide an additional £20min funding, having already provided £30m to CEPI.

Downing Street urged other donors to join the efforts of finding a vaccine.

It comes as the number of global cases topped 100,000 on Friday.