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Vaccine support must be multiplied, think tank says

Economists call for more EU vaccine funding, particularly for the later stages of development

The EU may need to invest an extra €3 billion in Covid-19 vaccine development, analysts from the influential economic think tank Bruegel have said.

Public budgets for vaccine development “need to be multiplied up several times over”, Bruegel fellows Reinhilde Veugelers and Georg Zachmann said in a policy paper published on 22 April.

Although they acknowledged the budgets they proposed would be “substantial”, they argued the amounts would be “a bargain” compared with the health, social and economic costs they could help avoid, citing an early International Monetary Fund estimate of $5 trillion (€4.6tn) in global GDP losses from Covid-19.

There is a huge gap in public funding for the more expensive later stages of vaccine development, the analysts said.

Based on previous success rates, at least nine potential vaccines must enter clinical trials for one to emerge as an effective solution, Veugelers and Zachmann said.

To plug the hole, an EU funding scheme should support projects through clinical trials using awards or grants. Such funding should cover the costs of each phase of trials and would be dependent on a project starting the phase, the analysts said.

According to an update on 23 April from the World Health Organization, there are now six Covid-19 vaccine candidates in clinical trials globally. A further 77 candidates are in preclinical evaluation.