Coronavirus: Belgium pours €5 million into efforts to fast-track vaccine

Coronavirus: Belgium pours €5 million into efforts to fast-track vaccine
Image shows SARS-CoV-2 (in yellow)—the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the US, emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in a lab. Credit: NIAID-RML (CC BY 2.0)

Belgium has pledged €5 million to boost efforts by international researchers racing to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus (Covid-19).

The funds will be made available to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an international public-private partnership set up in 2017 to accelerate the development of vaccines and ensure "equitable access" to them.

Belgium's contribution to CEPI comes after the research group issued an urgent call for $2 billion in donations in mid-March as it announced efforts to develop at least three candidate vaccines to fight the new coronavirus.

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In an online statement on Monday, CEPI said that the lockdown measures taken by governments to stem the spread of the virus among populations were "starting to have an effect," but that developing a vaccine remained vital.

"Our only sure-fire way to end to this pandemic is to rapidly develop a safe, effective, and globally accessible vaccine. Our goal is to deliver a safe and effective vaccine within 12-18 months."

According to a statement by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexandre De Croo, the money will be used to finance clinical studies and to boost production capacity at a global level.

"CEPI’s ambition is to carry out clinical trials within four months. This is significantly shorter than usual. We have no time to lose," De Croo said in the statement.

Together with Canada, Belgium is the latest nation to provide funding to the international research coalition, CEPI said on Monday.

The Canadian government's announced a contribution of CA$40 million, around €26 million, CEPI said.

Both countries' donations come after announced contributions by Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway and the UK have brought up the total amount pledged by national governments to over US$690 million.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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