CEPI establishes centralised COVID-19 vaccine evaluation network

Five labs have been selected by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to act as a global network for the assessment of COVID-19 vaccine immunogenicity.

scientists in full PPE looking at COVID-19 blood samples - could be testing vaccine immunogenicity

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has partnered with five clinical sample testing laboratories to create a centralised global network for the to reliably assess and compare the immunological responses generated by COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

The labs, located in various regions across the globe, will use the same testing reagents and follow common protocols to measure the immunogenicity of multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates. According to CEPI, this approach will “ensure uniformity in assessment and informed identification of the most promising vaccine candidates”.

The laboratories initially selected for this network are:

  • Nexelis (Canada)
  • Public Health England (PHE, UK)
  • VisMederi Srl (Italy)
  • Viroclinics-DDL (The Netherlands)
  • icddr,b (formerly International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) and
  • Translational Health Sciences and Technological Institute (THSTI, India).

These laboratories were selected based on their capacity to perform direct assessments of multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates, the ability to work internationally to harmonise protocols and data and their record of receiving and handling samples from multiple geographical locations, among other criteria.

CEPI said it is actively negotiating with additional laboratories to participate in this network.

According to the coalition, by centralising evaluations of the various vaccine formulations and technologies under development, the new clinical-sample-testing network will minimise variation in results obtained and remove inter-laboratory variability to enable head-to-head comparisons of immune responses induced by the COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

cartoon of scientists protecting the globe, fending off SARS-CoV-2 particles with vaccines/syringes

The laboratories, up to the limit of programme funding, can be used by eligible COVID-19 vaccine developers (both CEPI-funded and non-CEPI funded) of all sizes to analyse the immune response elicited by their vaccine candidates in preclinical, Phase I and Phase IIa studies without per sample charges.

Data obtained on the immunogenicity of CEPI-funded vaccine candidates will be used to inform and advance CEPI’s COVID-19 vaccine portfolio.

Certain commitments may be required for non-CEPI funded developers to be eligible for analyses and the number of samples available for testing per developer may be limited depending on response.

Dr Melanie Saville, Director of Vaccine R&D at CEPI, said: “With hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world, it is essential that we have a system that can reliably evaluate and compare the immune response of candidates currently undergoing testing.

“The launch of our new centralised lab network seeks to evaluate these vaccines against a common protocol to ensure alignment and information sharing when identifying the most promising candidates.

“Through such an endeavour, we aim to work towards our ultimate ambition through COVAX to fund and deliver 2 billion doses of successful COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021 to help bring an end to the acute phase of this pandemic.”