Serum Institute of India joins CEPI global network to boost production of affordable outbreak vaccines

Capability expansion will support rapid development of outbreak vaccines for use in Global South countries when faced with a future ‘Disease X’

New Delhi: The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India (SII), is joining a growing CEPI network of vaccine producers in the Global South to support more rapid, agile, and equitable responses to future public health disease outbreaks.
The addition of SII to the CEPI manufacturing network will be a significant boost to vaccine production efforts in Global South regions and will mean the world is better prepared to achieve the 100 Days Mission to develop new vaccines against known or novel infectious diseases within three months of a pandemic threat being recognized.
To prepare for such a scenario, CEPI is investing up to $30 million to build upon SII’s proven track record of rapid response to outbreaks of infectious disease, expanding the company’s existing ability to swiftly supply investigational vaccines in the face of epidemic and pandemic threats. This would then enable CEPI-backed vaccine developers to quickly transfer their technology to SII within days or weeks of an outbreak to begin rapid production and equitable distribution of affordable vaccines to affected populations.
Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, said: “As part of CEPI’s global manufacturing network, SII’s world-renowned manufacturing and rapid response capabilities are poised to play a critical role in enabling swift and equitable access to affordable outbreak vaccines for the Global South. Living in an era of heightened epidemic and pandemic risk, evidenced by the increasing prevalence, speed, and spread of outbreaks of infectious disease, we must prepare to confront these threats head-on to avoid another COVID-like catastrophe in the future.”
Created by CEPI to expand the global footprint of vaccine production, the manufacturing network focuses on vaccine makers in the Global South near areas at high risk of outbreaks caused by deadly viral threats like Lassa Fever, Nipah, Disease X, and other pathogens with epidemic or pandemic potential prioritised by CEPI. Given SII’s already proven production capabilities, in the event of an outbreak the company may be called upon to promptly supply investigational vaccines for preclinical and clinical testing as well as large-scale supply. Shortening the time taken to manufacture and validate the first batches of experimental vaccines will be key to enabling a response to an escalating outbreak within just 100 days – a goal created by CEPI and embraced by the G7, G20 and industry leaders – and could help stop a future pandemic in its tracks.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, said: “As a leading vaccine manufacturer, we’re committed to utilizing our well-established manufacturing and rapid response capabilities to strengthen epidemic preparedness and increase access to life-saving vaccines for those who need them most at an affordable price. This collaboration will enable us to respond more rapidly and equitably to public health disease outbreaks, particularly in Global South countries where access to life-saving vaccines can be limited.”
With CEPI’s funding, SII will also support the development, stockpiling and licensure of new vaccines against CEPI’s priority pathogens. CEPI and SII are exploring which CEPI-backed vaccines SII will support.
SII becomes the fourth member of CEPI’s global manufacturing network. Other members include Aspen in South Africa, Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal, and Bio Farma in Indonesia.
SII, which supplies vaccines to more than 170 countries, has a proven track record of rapid response to outbreaks of infectious diseases. In 2022, the company responded swiftly to an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus in Uganda by delivering doses of the investigational ChAdOx1 SUDV vaccine in just 80 days.