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    A Pandemic is Looming, So This Group is Working to Prep for It

    The next pandemic could be right around the corner. It isn’t something most of us like to think about, but researchers know that it’s a realistic threat that we should be preparing for before it strikes. Now, a group has been formed to help us in the event of another catastrophe.

    It’s called the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI. Let’s take a look at why it was formed, who is behind the initiative, and what it might do in the event that we face another threat, like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

    What is CEPI?

    CEPI was announced in mid-January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It is a group designed to develop vaccines for known infectious disease threats. The goal is to have vaccines ready and waiting in case a disease, such as Ebola, happens to spread rapidly again in a portion of the world.

    Who is Behind CEPI?

    The governments of Germany, Japan, and Norway are backing CEPI, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. To start, CEPI received $460 million in funding.

    “[Epidemics] can ruin societies on a scale only matched by wars and natural disasters,” said Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway. “They respect no borders and don’t care if we are rich or poor. Protecting the vulnerable is protecting ourselves. This is why we all must work together to be better prepared – and why my Government is fully committed to ensure that CEPI achieves its mission.”

    However, CEPI noted that it needs $1 billion within its first five years to achieve its initial goals, and it is now looking to private companies and researchers for support.

    What are its Goals?

    To begin, CEPI is targeting the MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus), Lassa (Lassa fever), and Nipah viruses (encephalitis and respiratory illness), which are known to cause epidemics. The group would ideally like to develop two vaccine candidates against each of these viruses. Further down the line, it will also look at creating vaccines for multiple strains of Ebola and Marburg viruses, as well as Zika.

    Will CEPI Achieve Its Objectives?

    At the moment, there’s no telling if CEPI will be a success. As it stands, it only has about half of the money it said it needs to achieve its initial goals within the next five years. It appears that in order for CEPI to gain any traction, it will need to receive some type of response (preferably in the form of money) from private investors.


    Sources

    Sifferlin, Alexandra. “This New Group Wants to Stop Pandemics Before They Start.” Time. Published January 19, 2017.

    Song, Jean. “Bill Gates on how to “outsmart” global epidemics.” CBS News. Published January 18, 2017.

    “Global partnership launched to prevent epidemics with new vaccines.” CEPI. Published January 18, 2017.

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