UK vaccine wins global backing over a ‘fight’ with future pandemic

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The Cambridge-based company will now get a cash injection of up to £32million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It supports the development of a broadly protective vaccine using “messenger RNA” technology already adopted for the Moderna and Pfizer jabs.

It teaches cells to make a protein that will trigger an immune response. If the plan works, experts believe vaccines could be developed rapidly against “Disease X” – yet-to-emerge pathogens that could cause pandemics.

Opening a conference hosted by CEPI in London, Boris Johnson said global co-operation was “crucial” to meeting the “100-day mission” – getting vaccines out in the first 100 days of a future pandemic threat being identified.

The Prime Minister said: “After the tragedy of the last two years, it is incumbent on all of us to work harder than ever in preparing to meet future pandemic threats.”

DIOSYNVAX chief executive Professor Jonathan Heeney said: “Our approach is to be ahead of the next pandemic – to deliver custom-designed, immune-selected vaccine antigens – which is ideal to prevent diseases caused by complex viruses such as coronaviruses.

“If successful, it will result in a safe, affordable next generation vaccine for widespread use.” England’s chief medical officer, Prof Sir Chris Whitty, said the world had many “near misses” with pandemics and preparation for the next one was key.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned further variants could be more severe and transmissible, or evade current vaccine protection.He said future pandemics were inevitable as global travel intensifies, more people live in dense urban areas and climate change disrupts our natural environment.

“We know that vaccines are the best weapon that we possess against future pandemics and that this is the moment to build on the extraordinary momentum that we have already seen.”

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