The IVI (International Vaccine Institute), in collaboration with the CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation), has reportedly announced a novel clinical research program that aims to improve and greatly expand access to coronavirus vaccines across Africa.
According to reports, CEPI would be providing a funding of approximately $12.7 million to the ECOVA (Expanding Access and Delivery of COVID-19 Vaccines in Africa) consortium, which is being led by the IVI to conduct clinical trials of the BBIBP-CorV vaccine by Sinopharm. This will greatly support the expanded utilization of the vaccine throughout the African continent.
For the record, as part of a deal that was announced on 12th of July, the COVAX Facility would be distributing approximately 170 million jabs of the BBIBP-CorV vaccine. Additionally, the vaccine jabs are already being rolled out across more than 50 nations worldwide.
It is to be noted, however, that there have not been any clinical trials assessing the efficacy of the BBIBP-CorV shot in African populations. In fact, the jab has also not been tested against any variants of concern that have been spreading almost unchecked across the southern part of Africa.
The new ECOVA research initiative aims to collect important data that would inform the utilization of the shot in Africa, and also potentially expand its to individuals that are HIV-infected. All outcomes generated through the ECOVA program would be made available as open source to better inform recommendations of regulatory authorities and policy makers regarding the inclusion of the BBIBP-CorV jab within national immunization programs.
To the uninitiated, IVI leads the ECOVA consortium, working in collaboration with International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh, Instituto Nacional de Saúde in Mozambique, University of Heidelberg in Germany, USA’s Harvard University, and Madagascar-based University of Antananarivo.
The aforementioned funding accounts for a portion of CEPI's upcoming 5-year plan, which it has published in March of 2021, which focus on reducing or even eliminating the future risk posed by epidemics and pandemics.