Brussels, Belgium, June 16, 2016 – AgResults – a collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to incentivize the private sector to create innovative and sustainable solutions to development challenges in agriculture – today announced the Brucellosis Vaccine Prize, a US $30 million prize challenge. The prize – the largest of its kind – aims to incentivize animal health companies to develop a vaccine against Brucellosis to be used in developing countries. While a vaccine exists, it has only been effective in the developed world, and the zoonotic disease that has a devastating effect on the livestock of smallholder farmers, remains endemic across much of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The challenge will animal health, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies and other organizations to develop and register an effective vaccine to be used against Brucellosis melitensis, a strain of Brucellosis in the developing world that affects small ruminants where the disease remains endemic. While vaccines exist against Brucellosis, they are often ineffectual in the developing country context because they require complex management systems and/or may pose a threat to vaccinators as they contain the live disease. Furthermore, the current vaccine is thermosensitive and needs constant refrigeration. Given that a significant percentage of smallholder farmers may be nomadic in nature and refrigeration facilities are few, the vaccine therefore has proved to be ultimately ineffective.
“Diseases like Brucellosis hit smallholder farmers hard, threatening their livelihoods and exacerbating poverty and hunger in rural communities across the developing world,” said Gayle Smith, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “By working with our partners in the public and private sectors to catalyze innovations, we are helping develop and scale effective and efficient solutions to help these communities boost economic growth and improve food security."
The contest will span up to ten years and will be managed by the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), based in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
Such a large prize is structured to offset the costs of research and development, and other costs that often dissuade private sector companies from creating a vaccine that ensures efficacy in the developing country context. The winning vaccine will ideally overcome all current hurdles that inhibit the efficacy of the Brucellosis vaccines in developing countries including addressing one or more strains that particularly affect small livestock, reduced reliance on complex management of animals undergoing vaccination (e.g. culling), using an inactive agent, and ensuring the vaccine does not need constant refrigeration. Eligible companies will receive three milestone payments at different stages of the contest that could add up to a total of US $26 million in total for one entrant.
Brucellosis is endemic across much of the developing world, and can impact on the majority of the 600 million people worldwide who depend on livestock for their livelihood. It is a costly disease that affects ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, etc.) and causes abortions, infertility, decreased milk production, and weight loss, amongst other effects. Additionally, the disease can cross the species barrier and effect humans with severe flu-like symptoms. There are approximately 500,000 new human cases reported annually. Such effects impact smallholder famers by depriving them of their main source of livelihood and ultimately reduces their ability to break out of the cycle of poverty.
AgResults is a US $118 million multilateral initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the U.K. and U.S. and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to incentivize and reward high-impact agricultural innovations that promote global food security, health, and nutrition and benefit smallholder farmers. AgResults originated at the June 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto, where leaders committed to exploring innovative results focused methods of harnessing private sector innovations in food security and improving productivity in developing countries. The initiative is currently running six pilots in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, Vietnam, and one globally.
GALVmed, through its partners, makes livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics accessible and available to the millions of smallholder livestock and poultry keepers in developing countries for whom livestock is a lifeline. GALVmed is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government. The international NGO harnesses the best available expertise and capabilities to develop vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for neglected livestock diseases impacting smallholders in Africa and South Asia.