Political Leaders Need to invest in Global Research & Development to Prepare for Next Pandemic
CEPI is helping to improve global laboratory capacity.

Recently, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) launched a $3.5 billion plan of investment in ground-breaking R&D, linked to equitable access commitments, which aims to transform the world’s ability to respond to new epidemic and pandemic threats and catalyze cooperation across a coalition of public and private sector partners.

As parliamentarians from across the European Union, we want to underscore the importance of governments’ role in actively supporting these kinds of global health preparedness plans at national level – with concrete investments and actions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that multilateralism and solidarity are fundamental to address any global health threat and that governments must increase global solidarity and collaboration, ensuring fair and universal access to vaccines.

The pandemic also has made us realize the impact that infectious diseases can have on our daily lives.  And it is now more clear than ever that it is not possible to rebuild our societies unless we control the epidemiological risk and commit to a more robust and effective global epidemic and pandemic preparedness and response architecture.

Investment in regional and international health security

As each country discusses how to strengthen its own domestic preparedness and response, it is also crucial to be certain that those efforts feed into a stronger global ecosystem. Domestic plans will be of little worth if the infectious disease threats that loom now or rise up in the future continue to hover just across our borders.  National contingency plans will only be effective if they also take into account and invest in the regional and international health security systems.

As a globally recognised organising force for R&D collaboration and innovation, CEPI is uniquely placed to coordinate an international approach to the research and development of new vaccines and other tools that significantly reduce future epidemic and pandemic risks.

CEPI offers a global focus and the agility to move quickly, extensive partnerships, and a proven track record with its rapid and effective action in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. It is able to leverage its unique connecting role, being able to work with vaccine developers and manufacturers, national governments, philanthropies, civil society and global health organisations, with an extensive network to pool and deploy resources in ways that states often cannot.

CEPI is continuing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic – optimising current vaccines and developing the next-generation of COVID-19 vaccines to respond to variants of concern.

Simultaneously, however, CEPI is also preparing for future infectious disease threats through initiating the development of a) broadly protective coronavirus vaccines, b) advancing vaccines for other known infectious disease threats and c) producing a library of prototype vaccines and other biological interventions against representative pathogens from critical viral families.

Building global capacity

CEPI is also working to establish global networks for lab capacity, assays, and preclinical models that are critical for rapid vaccine development, and to support the efforts of low- and middle-income countries to take full ownership of their national health security. Taken together, these tools will support CEPI’s ambitious aim to compress vaccine development timelines to 100 days from genetic sequence to vaccine availability. The plan is developed, but it now needs funding.

National contingency plans are only effective if they also pay attention to, and invest in, the international health security system. Investing in research and development for pandemic preparedness, both from domestic and foreign aid budgets, in an all-of-government strategy, is an efficient way to protect our future, as emerging infectious diseases require a similar kind of investment attention as other major threats, such as climate change or wars. Therefore, we need to establish a coordinated global R&D system where national and regional initiatives can complement each other, in order to avoid economic turmoil and save lives.

One of the main priorities of UNITE Members, Members of Parliament and policymakers around the world is to protect the people they represent and they are therefore fundamental in this process. We can hold governments accountable and advocate for more investment in R&D for pandemic preparedness.

We can also give political support for a strengthened future ecosystem through the work on a global accord, that secures appropriate funding for pandemic preparedness and makes sure that we put equitable access at the heart of the response.

We have the technology. Now, we need the political leadership.

UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases:

Petra Bayr, Member of Parliament, Austria

Jean François Mbaye, Former Member of Parliament, France

Jean-Luc Romero Michel – Deputy-Mayor of Paris and President of Local Elected Representatives against AIDS

Jean Spiri, Former Member of the Regional Council of Île-de-France

 Sara Cerdas, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal

 Juan Ignacio Echániz Salgado, Member of Parliament, Spain

Lisa Cameron, Member of Parliament, UK

Lia Quartapelle, Member of Parliament, Italy

Sirpa Pietikäinen, Member of the European Parliament, Finland

Andrew Ullmann, Member of Parliament, Germany




Image Credits: Novavax, Sanofi.

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