Scientists get N140.3bn to produce vaccines for three new diseases

PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES/TETRA IMAGES RF

PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES/TETRA IMAGES RF

To fight diseases that could wipe out the human race, scientists are attempting to come up with vaccines for new and emerging diseases.

Top on the list of the fearsome diseases, according to a study published in the journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, is Lassa fever. The viral infection, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Abuja, has been wreaking havoc in Nigeria since last month, with 19 confirmed cases and six deaths in seven states.

Others diseases targeted by the researchers, which have the potential to cause serious epidemics include Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Nipah viruses. Not to mention Ebola virus, Zika virus, and Severely Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The Wellcome Trust’s Vietnam Initiative on Zoonotic Infections and the European Union Compare project funded the study.

According to a report by DailyMailUK, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) aimed to develop two promising vaccine candidates against each disease before an epidemic strikes.

Overall, an initial investment of $460 million (N140.3 billion) has come from the governments of Germany, Japan and Norway, plus the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the Wellcome Trust.

Medical research charity, the Wellcome Trust has pledged $100 million United States (U.S.) dollars over the next five years to the project.

The coalition, which has launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has also called for more investors to come forward as it is looking to raise another half billion U.S. dollars by the end of this year.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, added: “Ebola and Zika showed that the world is tragically unprepared to detect local outbreaks and respond quickly enough to prevent them from becoming global pandemics. Without investments in research and development, we will remain unequipped when we face the next threat.”

Lead researcher, Prof. Mark Woolhouse, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “Monitoring these infections should be prioritised because relatively minor changes in their ecology could lead to major changes in the threat they pose to public health.”



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