Norway is to increase its support for the work to develop vaccines against the virus that has caused the current COVID-19 pandemic and against future epidemics by NOK 2.2 billion.
The funding is being allocated to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), for its vaccine development work. Today’s decision to allocate a further NOK 2.2 billion to CEPI comes in addition to the allocations totalling NOK 1.636 billion that have previously been announced.
‘By allocating research funding to CEPI, which Norway has played a key role in establishing, our aim is to speed up the development of a coronavirus vaccine, and to make sure we are prepared for the next pandemic,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
‘The current global situation is highly dramatic, and over the next few weeks and months we are expecting the vast scale of the crisis and of the needs of poor and vulnerable countries with weak health systems to become clear. Norway played a leading role in establishing CEPI, and has made substantial contributions to the coalition for several years,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein.
The situation in Africa is particularly worrying now. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), countries in Africa have limited capacity to test for infection, and well-functioning health institutions and protective equipment for frontline health workers are in short supply. A major outbreak of the virus on the continent would cause suffering on a catastrophic scale.
‘It is now vital that we do what we can to enable CEPI to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 as quickly as possible. In addition to providing this extra allocation, members of the Government are also contacting our colleagues in other countries to mobilise additional funding for CEPI’s life-saving work,’ said Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.
CEPI has announced that it has started carrying out clinical tests of a vaccine, and that it has two other vaccine candidates ready to be tested. If this work is successful, CEPI could have a vaccine ready for production in 12 to 18 months’ time.
‘The world was clearly not prepared for the crisis we are now experiencing. Vaccines are the most important tool for preventing pandemics. This is the case for all people, all over the world. We must now ensure that any vaccines that are developed, as well as medicines and diagnostic equipment, are distributed fairly, so that they also reach the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries,’ said Mr Ulstein.
• Full name: Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)
• Established in 2017 in the aftermath of the Ebola crisis to finance the development of vaccines against diseases with epidemic potential. The idea was conceived in Norway. Norway, Germany, Japan, India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust were key contributors to the establishment of CEPI.
• Norway has already pledged NOK 1.6 billion to CEPI for the period 2017-2025.
• Norway is now increasing its allocation to CEPI by NOK 2.2 billion over a ten-year period.
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