A centralized network is formed to assess and compare Covid-19 vaccines worldwide
The laboratory of the international health research institute based in Bangladesh, icddr,b has been selected as one of the five laboratories across the globe to work together as part of a centralized network that has been announced on Sunday in Norway.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced setting up a global laboratory network to assess data from potential Covid-19 vaccines, allowing scientists and drugmakers to compare them which will help speed up the selection of the most effective shots.
The announcement was made in Norway, where they initially confirmed partnering with five research organizations including icddr,b.
The other four are - Nexelis (Canada) and Public Health England (PHE, UK), VisMederi Srl (Italy), Viroclinics-DDL (The Netherlands) and Translational Health Sciences and Technological Institute (THSTI, India).
CEPI has approved costs of up to US $16 million for this network.
CEPI, a global partnership working for developing vaccines since 2017 to stop future epidemics, itself is co-funding nine of the potential Covid-19 vaccines in development, including candidates like Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax and CureVac.
How it will work
According to the organization this network would reliably assess and compare immunological responses generated by the Covid-19 vaccine candidates.
The network will use the same testing reagents — originated in the labs of Nexelis and PHE — and follow common protocols to measure the immunogenicity of multiple Covid-19 vaccine candidates (both CEPI-funded and non-CEPI funded developers).
Immunogenicity is the ability of a foreign substance, such as an antigen, to provoke an immune response in the body of a human or other animal.
All these research laboratories under the centralized network will be able to run specific tests for vaccine trials for other emerging infectious diseases.
The most advanced validated Covid-19 test (assay-analyzing composition) was selected and, alongside associated training, the assay protocol was provided to all laboratories involved in the network to perform the same sample analysis.
To ensure ongoing accurate assessment, laboratories will be required to assess a standard sample set every six months.
What it will bring
This approach will ensure uniformity in assessment and informed identification of the most promising vaccine candidates. CEPI is actively negotiating with additional laboratories to participate in this network.
CEO of CEPI Dr Richard Hatchett, said: “Encouraging data is now emerging on multiple Covid-19 vaccine candidates, but there is no way to draw direct comparisons, as different labs may use different measurements to infer immune response.”
“The establishment of CEPI’s centralized laboratory network is the first time a project has been done — at such speed and scale — in response to a pandemic,” he added.
Melanie Saville, director of vaccine (R&D) at CEPI said: “The launch of our new centralized lab network seeks to evaluate these vaccines against a common protocol to ensure alignment and information sharing when identifying the most promising candidates.
“Through such an endeavour, we aim to work towards our ultimate ambition through Covax to fund and deliver 2 billion doses of successful Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2021 to help bring an end to the acute phase of this pandemic.”
Covax is a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines.
Executive Director at icddr,b, Professor John D Clemens said: “Ensuring that immunological responses to Covid-19 vaccines are measured systematically in a manner that allows valid comparisons of vaccines will be essential to global efforts for identifying the vaccines of greatest public health value.”
“We commend CEPI’s efforts to establish a centralized laboratory network, and, as an organization with decades of experience in evaluating vaccines, we are keen to contribute to the network,” he added.