The icddr,b has been selected as one of the six laboratories across the globe to work together to reliably assess and compare immunological responses generated by Covid-19 vaccine candidates, read a press release yesterday.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a major non-profit group, has set up the network of global laboratories to assess data for potential Covid-19 vaccines, allowing scientists and drug makers to compare them and speed up selection of the most effective shots.
“We commend CEPI’s efforts to establish a centralised laboratory network, and, as an organisation with decades of experience in evaluating vaccines, we are keen to contribute to the network,” Professor John D Clemens, MD, executive director at icddr,b, said in a press release from the CEPI forwarded by the icddr,b yesterday.
The five other laboratories were initially selected for this vaccine- assessment network are: Nexelis (Canada), Public Health England (PHE, UK), VisMederiSrl (Italy), Viroclinics-DDL (The Netherlands), and Translational Health Sciences and Technological Institute (THSTI, India).
According to the release, the network will use the same testing reagents — originating in the labs of Nexelis and PHE — and follow common protocols to measure the immunogenicity of multiple Covid-19 vaccine candidates (both CEPI-funded and non-CEPI funded developers).
This approach will ensure uniformity in assessment and informed identification of the most promising vaccine candidates, read the press release.
CEPI is actively negotiating with additional laboratories to participate in this network, it added.
Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, said, “Encouraging data is now emerging on multiple Covid-19 vaccine candidates, however, there is no way to draw direct comparisons, as different labs may use different measurements to infer immune response.”
“The establishment of CEPI’s centralised laboratory network is the first time a project has been done at such speed and scale in response to a pandemic. Our network of labs will operate as though vaccines are all being tested under one roof, to speed up assessment and identify successful vaccine candidates so that we move as quickly as possible to reduce the great suffering caused as a result of this global crisis,” he added.
About the initiative Reuters reports: hundreds of potential Covid-19 vaccines are in various stages of development around the world, with shots developed in Russia and China already being deployed before full efficacy trials have been done, and front-runners from Pfizer PFE.N, Moderna MRNA.O and AstraZeneca AZN.L likely to have final-stage trial results before year-end.
Typically, the immunogenicity of potential vaccines is assessed in individual lab analyses, which aim to see whether biomarkers of immune response — such as antibodies and T-cell responses — are produced after clinical trial volunteers receive a dose, or doses, of the vaccine candidate.
But with more than 320 Covid-19 vaccine candidates in the works, Saville said, the many differences in data collection and evaluation methods are an issue.
As well as potential variations in markers of immunity, there are differences in how and where samples are collected, transported and stored — all of which can impact the quality and usefulness of the data produced, and make comparisons tricky.
CEPI itself is co-funding nine of the potential Covid-19 vaccines in development, including candidates from Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax NVAX.O and CureVac.