Epidemic Insurance

14 April 2017 Vol 356, Issue 6334

Epidemic Insurance
Jon Cohen
Science  14 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6334, pp. 125-127
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6334.125
In the wake of the West Africa Ebola epidemic that ended in 2015, public health officials, pharmaceutical companies, government scientists, and academic researchers have struggled to improve the way the world responds to outbreaks of emerging infections. The most powerful tool, a vaccine, does not exist for dozens of these diseases and a new push is underway to streamline R&D for these commercially unattractive products. A new organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), was launched and has raised half a billion dollars to work on three of these vaccines. GlaxoSmithKline, one of only four large vaccinemakers in the world, has proposed devoting one of its idle manufacturing plants to be a facility dedicated to making vaccines for emerging infections, and is seeking CEPI funding. But other vaccinemakers have different ideas about how best to improve the response. And many of the people at the front of reinventing the way the world responds to emerging infections stress that the problem in need of fixing is much larger than simply manufacturing novel vaccines.