Infectious disease experts have been predicting a new emerging or re-emerging pandemic for some time. Indeed, the mantra had been, “not if, but when”. In the aftermath of the Ebola (2014) and Zika (2015) virus outbreaks, the WHO undertook a rigorous review of their policy approach, dramatically shifting from a reactive to proactive preparedness model. The concept of a Blueprint list of priority diseases was born, a list that included seven known potential threats, and an unknown pathogen, referred to as Disease X. SARS-CoV-2 emerged in China in late 2019 as Disease X ver 1.0, and has presented the world with a pandemic challenge requiring both novel and rapid global and national responses.
The functional arm of the new WHO preparedness model is the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, CEPI who have funded a raft of programs aimed at the development of targeted vaccines and platform technologies that could also be applied to Disease X, in readiness for this expected pandemic. We were one of the groups funded by CEPI to prepare for such an outbreak and this presentation will provide some insights in to the way we have been developing Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine.