GALVmed to help stimulate improved FMD vaccine for East Africa through AgResults project
The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) will manage a competition that aims to encourage the development of an improved foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine for East Africa.
After a bidding process, Edinburgh-headquartered GALVmed will be the project manager for the AgResults FMD Challenge Project.
GALVmed is already the project manager for AgResults' Brucellosis Vaccine Prize competition – a $30 million multi-donor mission launched in 2016. This particular initiative has now been open for over two years and is starting to see progress in the R&D stakes.
Both projects are part of the $145m AgResults initiative financed by the governments of Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. AgResults has been running pay-for-results competitions since 2013 across numerous industries. These initiatives have "incentivised the private sector to expand into new sectors and realize the economic potential of underserved markets to improve the well-being of smallholder farmers".
FMD is a clear threat to smallholder farmers all over Africa and tackling the disease fits the mold for AgResults competitions. The viral disease causes losses of around $2.3 billion each year in Africa. GALVmed said most of this economic burden occurs in sub-Saharan Africa.
The not-for-profit's chief executive Dr Carolin Schumacher said: "Africa is notoriously underserved with FMD vaccines and the East African context is of particular concern. An improved vaccine offering will play a vital role in controlling the endemic disease and could help reduce poverty in East Africa."
GALVmed pointed out FMD outbreaks in East Africa "typically strike as waves of infection one to two years apart". They can be exacerbated when multiple serotypes or strains circulate at the same time.
The organization stated: "Despite the clear impacts of FMD in East Africa, efforts to curb the disease have been rare and often limited in scope. Vaccination is proven to effectively control FMD but current vaccines do not offer cross-protection against the various strains circulating across East Africa. Additionally, these vaccines are often expensive and of variable quality."
The AgResults project will encourage global vaccine developers to develop, register and commercialize effective FMD vaccines specifically for the East African market. These firms will be part of a competition to create vaccines that meet established criteria.
GALVmed told Animal Pharm this project began in June and will run until December 2027. The amount of funding that will be made available as part of the project has not yet been disclosed.
These companies will participate as 'competitors' to create vaccines that meet criteria established for the region. Once the vaccines are approved and registered, the competitors will become eligible to commence sales. GALVmed said the project will contribute to the cost-per-dose paid to the competing manufacturers, thereby encouraging government and private sector actors to better combat FMD by consistently purchasing high volumes of vaccines at affordable prices.
"The project will also promote regional purchases of eligible vaccines to build a stable market around FMD control while encouraging the development of a private sector model for buying and distributing to complement public sector control efforts," GALVmed added. "As the market develops, smallholder farmers should more easily access effective vaccines. Over time, the health of their livestock will improve and they should see potential increases in net income."
Last year, the Pirbright Institute and the University of Glasgow showed a targeted vaccination program against FMD could help alleviate poverty in eastern Africa.
Elsewhere in Africa, another Edinburgh-based organization – Supporting Evidence Based Interventions – is part of a project to tackle FMD In Nigeria with a new vaccine.