Serum Institute of India is joining a CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) network of vaccine producers in the Global South to support rapid, agile, and equitable responses to future public health disease outbreaks.

The development will boost CEPI’s manufacturing network in Global South regions, “so the world is better prepared to achieve the 100 Days Mission to develop new vaccines against known or novel infectious diseases within three months of a pandemic threat being recognised”, a CEPI note said.

CEPI is investing up to $30 million to expand SII’s capacity to swiftly supply investigational vaccines in the face of epidemic and pandemic threats. “This would then enable CEPI-backed vaccine developers to quickly transfer their technology to SII within days or weeks of an outbreak to begin rapid production and equitable distribution of affordable vaccines to affected populations,” it added.

With CEPI’s funding, SII will also support the development, stockpiling and licensure of new vaccines against CEPI’s priority pathogens. CEPI and SII will identify which CEPI-backed vaccines SII will support, the note said.

SII becomes the fourth member of CEPI’s global manufacturing network after Aspen in South Africa, Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal, and Bio Farma in Indonesia.

Dr Richard Hatchett, CEPI Chief Executive said,“Living in an era of heightened epidemic and pandemic risk, evidenced by the increasing prevalence, speed, and spread of outbreaks of infectious disease, we must prepare to confront these threats head-on to avoid another Covid-like catastrophe in the future.”

Created by CEPI to expand the global footprint of vaccine production, the manufacturing network focuses on vaccine makers in the Global South, near areas at high risk of outbreaks caused by deadly viral threats like Lassa Fever, Nipah, Disease X, and other pathogens with epidemic or pandemic potential prioritised by CEPI, the note said.

Adar Poonawalla, SII Chief Executive said, This collaboration will enable us to respond more rapidly and equitably to public health disease outbreaks, particularly in Global South countries where access to life-saving vaccines can be limited.‘

In the event of an outbreak, the vaccine maker may be called upon to promptly supply investigational vaccines for preclinical and clinical testing as well as large-scale supply. “Shortening the time taken to manufacture and validate the first batches of experimental vaccines will be key to enabling a response to an escalating outbreak within just 100 days — a goal created by CEPI and embraced by the G7, G20 and industry leaders — and could help stop a future pandemic in its tracks,” it said.