Global coalition warns of bare R&D pipeline for pathogens with pandemic potential
New analysis, part of the latest 100 Days Mission report, reveals glaring gaps for therapeutics and diagnostics.
By READDI, January 24, 2024 — During 2023, the world made progress in vaccine research and development, but R&D for therapeutics and diagnostics for pathogens with pandemic potential remained underfunded and lagging, according to the Third Implementation Report from the 100 Days Mission.
“As the latest 100 Days Mission report shows, there is much work to be done,” said READDI CEO Jimmy Rosen from Rome. “The release of the Therapeutics Roadmap, however, marks a positive action step. READDI is pleased to have contributed scientific and business expertise toward creating the roadmap.”
READDI’s signature approach is making small molecule antiviral drugs that work broadly against all the viruses in the virus families of highest pandemic potential. READDI is a core implementation partner in the 100 Days Mission, which was established by G7 leaders in response to the impact of COVID-19 to ensure the global availability of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines within the first 100 days of a pandemic threat. The annual Implementation Report assesses international progress toward the 100DM goals.
Last year saw progress in vaccines R&D — including the first FDA-approved Chikungunya vaccine and Phase 1 trials for Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever vaccines — and strong political support for the 100 Days Mission from the G7 and G20 under the leadership of Japan and India, respectively. However, today’s report highlights a concerning lack of investment in the R&D pipeline overall and signs of waning focus on pandemic preparedness.
“As the world contends with multiple crises, we cannot forget the devastation of COVID-19 and the long-term impact it has had on populations, health systems and the global economy,” said Dr. Mona Nemer, 100 Days Mission Steering Group Chair and the Chief Science Advisor of Canada. “Being better prepared for the next pandemic will require heightened global focus, as well as support for the entire therapeutics pipeline and readily scalable and accessible diagnostics.”
The new Therapeutics Roadmap marks the start of a more coordinated approach to pandemic therapeutics development. It aims to provide a springboard for action and collaboration, with a headline goal of developing at least two “Phase 2 ready” therapeutic candidates for each of the top 10 WHO priority pathogen families, while also focusing on the optimization of monoclonal antibodies and the promotion of new, disruptive technologies.
Also new in 2024 is the 100 Days Mission Scorecard, which provides a comprehensive assessment of the pipeline for the World Health Organization R&D Blueprint pathogens of pandemic potential. Analysis completed by Policy Cures Research reveals very few approved products outside of COVID-19 and the Zaire Ebolavirus strain. The scorecard also highlights the global lack of funding for WHO Blueprint pathogens except COVID-19. Between 2019 and 2022, COVID-19 saw US$14.5bn invested, eight times higher than the other nine pathogens put together. The scorecard also reveals a lack of diversity in funding sources, posing a risk to global preparedness.
“The 100 Days Mission is a welcome complement to WHO’s work with partners on the diseases that pose the greatest pandemic risk, for which there are no or insufficient countermeasures,” said WHO Chief Scientist Sir Jeremy Farrar. “We must now sustainably invest, particularly in basic science, R&D and distributed manufacturing, including the neglected areas of pandemic therapeutics and diagnostics, as well as vaccines.”
With Italy and Brazil assuming the presidencies of the G7 and G20, respectively, the 100 Days Mission Steering Group, Science and Technology Expert Group (STEG) and partners will urge the G7, G20 and regional organizations to catalyze coordinated international action, emphasizing the global nature of the mission. They will call for political commitment to building virtual prototype libraries of pandemic therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines, working with the private and philanthropic sectors to make most efficient use of limited resources.
“The world needs a medical-countermeasures network that is prepared to deliver equity and innovation when the next novel viral outbreak occurs,” said READDI’s Rosen. “With funding and continued collaboration, the 100 Days Mission can disrupt the panic-neglect cycle of pandemic response.”
100 Days Mission leaders will set out key priorities for 2024, including:
- Greater coordination and investment in the therapeutics pipeline, to operationalize the 100DM Therapeutics Roadmap.
- Sufficient funding to implement the 100DM diagnostics framework, including supporting FIND’s initial ask of US$80-100m.
- Greater regulatory alignment and adoption of preparatory regulatory approaches.
- Strengthening of sustainable regional and global clinical trial infrastructure.