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Int’l Lab Network to Assess Covid-19 Vaccines



2 Oct. 2020. Six clinical testing laboratories worldwide plan to evaluate vaccines for protecting against Covid-19 infections with a common set of test protocols. The labs and standard assessment processes are organized by Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, in Oslo, Norway, an organization that sponsored much of the early research on Covid-19 vaccines.

CEPI says common assessment procedures are needed to evaluate the immunological responses produced by vaccine candidates by participants in clinical trials. In most circumstances, individual labs report results of vaccine clinical trials, but CEPI notes that there are currently more than 320 Covid-19 vaccines in development, representing a wide range of data collection and assessment methods. The CEPI lab network aims to provide common measures of antibody and T-cell responses to vaccines, as well as ways to reconcile the different vaccine technologies (e.g., messenger RNA and live attenuated viruses), and assure standards are being met for sample collection, storage, and transportation.

The labs recruited so far in the CEPI network are:

Nexelis in Laval, Quebec, Canada

Public Health England in London, U.K.

VisMederi in Siena, Italy

Viroclinics DDL in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

iccdr,b in Dhaka, Bangladesh (formerly International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh)

Translational Health Science and Technology Institute in Faridabad, India

CEPI says the labs, selected from a call for proposals in May, plan to test samples from Covid-19 vaccine candidate preclinical studies, as well as early and mid-stage trials. The organization recently issued a new call for proposals for labs to evaluate samples from late-stage clinical trials.

“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,” says CEPI’s CEO Richard Hatchett, in an organization statement. “Our network of labs will operate as though vaccines are all being tested under one roof, to speed up assessment and identify successful vaccine candidates so that we move as quickly as possible to reduce the great suffering caused as a result of this global crisis.”

“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,” adds Melanie Saville, CEPI’s vaccine development director. “Through such an endeavor, 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, short for Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access, is an international agreement backed by World Health Organization, European Union, CEPI, and other non-government organizations to provide worldwide equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, once they’re approved. Nine vaccines backed by CEPI are part of Covax. As reported by Science & Enterprise, on 1 September., the U.S. announced it would not take part in Covax.

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