Ebola, Zika, SARS, MERS–in recent years waves of epidemics have swept across countries and continents, all with the potential to tip over into pandemics. “It’s one of the most urgent threats we face, and we need to start preparing now,” says Göran Conradson “one reason the new EU HERA project to strengthen and speed up pandemic preparedness in Europe is so impressive is because it recognizes the serious gaps that COVID-19 has revealed in how we respond to pandemics. HERA is very much creating new solutions, from research to licensing to supply, because better pandemic preparation has to include innovation.
“Bill and Melinda Gates’ 2021 Annual Letter states that ’pandemic preparedness must be taken as seriously as we take the threat of war’. That’s true, and let’s remember – innovation has always been crucial to winning wars.”
The HERA Incubator – ramping up vaccine production in Europe
The HERA Incubator emergency program, launched in February 2021, is a core part of HERA. It is an intensive project to ensure that all Europeans have access to COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. It is focused on optimizing and speeding up research, development and production of new vaccines for new COVID-19 variants, across Europe. It explicitly identifies increasing industrial production, monitoring supply chains and solving production bottlenecks as key priority areas.
Ziccum is taking an increasingly proactive role in reaching out to European and global vaccine policy projects and makers. “As vaccine formulators we have to be involved in global policy – immunization is a cross-border endeavor by its very nature” Conradson says. “COVID-19 has reminded everyone, urgently, that there’s little point in one country gaining immunity if its next-door neighbor is still struggling with high infection rates. For us as a species, immunization is all or nothing. We’re all in it together.”
Ziccum has always stressed the importance of cross-industry partnerships and collaboration, Conradson points out. “HERA is just one of a wide range of collaborative cross-border, cross-industry initiatives from COVAX to GAVI working for more efficient and more equitable vaccine distribution.”
With the scale of the current pandemic, and the speed of new variants, Conradson says Ziccum is seeing growing awareness amongst many vaccine organizations that strengthening regional vaccine production and distribution needs to be an essential part of future preparedness and defeating new pandemics.
“Achieving global herd immunity could easily require developing and manufacturing billions of doses of vaccines worldwide a year,” he says. “Today’s top-down energy-intensive Cold Chain has already found it challenging coping with current demand. Will it be able to deliver the billions of vaccines required, frozen or chilled, across all continents and climate zones? It’s time to explore innovation in vaccine formulation. Our ambient air-drying technology can help regions manufacture robust, more easily transportable vaccines closer to home. That’s why we’re discussing establishing regional Fill and Finish plans, producing high volumes of thermostable vaccines, with policy makers across the world. Pandemics know no borders. Nor should the technology that can defeat them.”
· Read Ziccum’s feedback to HERA here.
· Ziccum’s plans for regional Fill and Finish plants here.
· Ziccum technology preparing for pandemics and reducing vaccine waste here.
· Ziccum’s global partnership approach here.