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DT Biologika, CEPI collaborate on MERS vaccine

CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) announced a collaboration with IDT Biologika under which IDT will receive up to $36 million to advance the development and manufacture of a vaccine against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a zoonotic disease that is spread to humans from dromedary camels.

CEPI will provide $15.7 million to support the first stages of the development, with options to invest up to a total of $36 million over five years, including clinical development, process development, manufacturing, and stockpile of the vaccine.

MERS-CoV was first identified in 2012. It is carried by camels and spread by droplet infection of the airways. Infection can cause respiratory disease including fever and cough that can progress into severe pneumonia. About 35% of reported patients with MERS-CoV have died. There is currently no vaccine against MERS-CoV.

Since 2012, 2229 laboratory-confirmed cases have occurred in 27 countries. WHO has highlighted MERS-CoV as a priority disease for research and development.

The disease has caused a number of large outbreaks, especially in Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Middle East, although large outbreaks have also occurred outside the Middle East. In 2015, one person infected with MERS-CoV returned to South Korea from the Middle East, subsequently spreading the virus to 186 people, resulting in the death of 36.

“The outbreak of diseases like MERS, Ebola, or Lassa fever will continue to pose a threat to many people’s health as long as there are no effective vaccines. This is why we are involved in the CEPI initiative, whose objective is to prevent future epidemics by developing novel vaccines. I am particularly glad that German know-how is playing an important part in ensuring better health security worldwide. The IDT Biologika company in Dessau and its academic partners were selected by CEPI to develop a vaccine against the MERS virus," Federal Minister of Education and Research for the Government of Germany Anja Karliczek said, in a press statement.

“We are extremely pleased to enter into this agreement with IDT to develop a vaccine against MERS. At CEPI, we envision a world in which epidemic risks like MERS are no longer a threat to humanity. The Government of Germany is a founding member of CEPI and—through the support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research—has been instrumental in helping us achieve this mission,” CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett said, in a press statement.

“We are pleased to contribute our knowledge and resources to develop such an innovative vaccine for prevention of this deadly disease. IDT is excited to support such an excellent consortium of esteemed scientific and clinical organizations for vaccine research and development," IDT CEO Andreas Kastenbauer said, in a press statement.
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