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Oxfordshire companies lead vaccines research to combat potential epidemics in developing countries

21 February 2022
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Research into vaccines to tackle some of the world’s deadliest diseases in low and middle-income countries has been backed by £10 million of UK aid funding, the government has announced – with businesses in Oxfordshire at the vanguard.

The funding provided by the government’s UK Vaccine Network (UKVN) and to be delivered by Innovate UK has been awarded to 22 research projects, supporting development of vaccines for diseases that have the potential to become epidemics.

This includes Ebola, Lassa Fever, Zika, Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and Chikungunya virus.

Some of the projects are also looking at ways to tackle ‘Disease X’ – a hypothetical future pathogen - to ensure the world is equipped for future epidemics or pandemics.

The UKVN has already funded 78 projects with over £115 million worth of UK aid funding, as part of the government’s commitment to:

  • defeat poverty
  • tackle instability
  • and create prosperity in developing countries.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Covid-19 has shown us first-hand just how important it is that we work together to keep everyone across the world safe.

"I am delighted that these innovative projects – tackling serious and deadly diseases - will receive the funding they need to take their research to the next stage.

"Thank you to the expert scientists behind these vital projects for their efforts that will continue to save millions of lives."

Indro Mukerjee, Chief Executive of Innovate UK, which is leading the project, said: "Innovate UK is proud to deliver this vital work on behalf of the UK Vaccine Network. This will build on the crucial delivery of vaccines and vaccine platform technologies.

"These projects will help to prevent future outbreaks of viral diseases in the developing world and may offer utility against future pandemics, as previously realised with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid-19."

Among the 22 funded projects, six are from Oxfordshire:

£499,937 to the University of Oxford for Good Manufacturing Practice manufacture of a vaccine targeting a viral haemorrhagic fever, particularly Marburg virus

£262,528 to the University of Oxford for a clinical trial assessment of a multivalent vaccine against Ebola virus

£500,000 to the University of Oxford for clinical development of a plague vaccine: a phase 1b trial in a target population in Uganda

£377,409 to Oxford Expression Technologies for development of a vaccine against Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever

£492,559 to Oxford Vacmedix UK for a novel T cell-based vaccine potency assay to accelerate and improve development and manufacturing

£490,525 to Abingdon-based Emergex Vaccines Holding for the development of a CD8 T-cell priming vaccine against Chikungunya virus

Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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