An R&D Blueprint for Action to Prevent Epidemics. Funding & Coordination Models for Preparedness and Response. May 2016 (Being ready for the next epidemic: How to improve R&D funding for preparedness and response to emerging pathogens. An exploration of different funding and coordination models in the framework of the WHO R&D Blueprint for action to prevent epidemics)
(2016; 34 pages)


The 2014-15 Ebola outbreak reminded the public health community that the world is illprepared to avert major outbreaks of emerging pathogens. The WHO R&D Blueprint for action to prevent epidemics addresses the question of how to improve R&D preparedness and response, focusing on a list of priority diseases in line with recommendations from a number of expert Panels and Commissions. The development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics is costly. Based on recent research, this report presents estimates of the funding needed to develop drug and vaccine candidates as well as diagnostics, taking into account average failure rates in the development process. These numbers allow a rough estimate of the cost of preparedness, with a sufficient number of drug and vaccine candidates developed for the different pathogens included in the Blueprint. As most of the pathogens prioritised by the Blueprint are poorly researched, it is estimated that up to $1.17bn would have to be invested for each pathogen, although R&D could be considerably cheaper, if built on existing technologies. An essential condition for better R&D preparedness and response is the availability of funding.

However, there is currently insufficient funding to cover the required R&D to address pathogens included in the Blueprint. New and innovative funding models are needed to more sustainably fund R&D for emergency response and preparedness. In previous years, many different innovative funding models have been discussed for R&D for neglected diseases and other poverty-related illnesses.

This report presents options on how to ensure that the required research activities are financed and take place in the most efficient way, involving all necessary stakeholders. The Consultation on Financing for R&D preparedness and response to public health emergencies due to highly infectious pathogens in Oslo highlighted the need to start quickly, with the focused objective of defining target product profiles for medical products to address a specific set of the identified pathogens. One of the Consultation’s recommendations was to seek mechanisms to ensure sustainable financing, starting by engaging those stakeholders who are ready to move.

Discussions in different fora such as the G7 and the G20 and the UN General Assembly are ongoing and will hopefully result in the creation of a funding mechanism.

However, while it is important to work towards more sustainable R&D funding, there is also a need for short-term action. To that end, the Blueprint explores possible ways to make more efficient use of existing funding through better coordination, using the experience from the pilot project on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and the experience gained with R&D coordination in the development of malaria vaccines.

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