CEPI partners with BioNet to expand variant-proof vaccine programme


OSLO, Norway, 25 January 2022: CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, today announced the latest award under its $200m programme, launched in March 2021, to advance the development of vaccines that provide broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants and other Betacoronaviruses.1 CEPI will partner with BioNet—a French-Thai vaccine manufacturer and member of the Developing Country Vaccine Manufacturing network (DCVMN)—providing up to $16.9 million to support preclinical studies, Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, production of necessary clinical trial material, and process and analytical development.

Science has consistently delivered throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Science delivered safe and effective vaccines in record time, weakening the link between COVID-19 infection and severe illness or death, in countries with sufficient access to these innovations. However, the emergence of the Omicron variant serves as a stark reminder of the ever-present threat posed by new variants that might evade the protection of our current vaccines, threatening the progress the world has made over the past year. It's critical that we redouble our efforts to get people vaccinated globally to reduce the amount of virus in circulation, and in parallel we must also focus effort and resources on R&D to improve the current COVID-19 vaccines to make them more effective against multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2.By advancing broadly protective vaccine candidates, such as that being developed by the consortium led by BioNet, we can strengthen the world's ability to control SARS-CoV-2, and the threat posed by other Betacoronaviruses, in the long-term.

Dr. Richard HatchettChief Executive Officer, CEPI

Variant-proof vaccine

CEPI will support the researchers of a global and multidisciplinary consortium led by BioNet and composed of American and Thai universities (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, California-Davis and Chulalongkorn) and South Korea-based International Vaccine Institute as they seek to establish preclinical and clinical proof of concept for a novel vaccine that uses multiple mRNA molecules that encode for several SARS-CoV-2 target proteins (ie, immunogens) from different variants, which could provide broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants. To protect the fragile mRNA molecules, they are then encapsulated into a fatty sphere, known as a lipid nanoparticle for use as a vaccine.

If shown to be successful, this platform could also be used to enable rapid development of broadly protective vaccines against other Betacoronaviruses, like MERS-CoV-2, as well as vaccines against Disease X—unknown pathogens with pandemic potential that have yet to emerge.

CEPI is accelerating its programme to develop broadly protective coronavirus vaccines—a core part of its $3.5 billion pandemic preparedness plan—in view of the continued threat posed by new SARS-CoV-2 variants like Omicron. Additional awards under this programme are expected to be announced shortly.

We are glad to receive the support from CEPI for the development of a pan-coronavirus mRNA vaccine. This is a recognition of the quality of the project team and the science behind the mRNA technology. The project involves a one-of-a kind consortium bringing together scientific leadership in the field of mRNA and coronavirus from US universities, clinical experience of Thai and international organisations; and the process development expertise from BioNet.Using the mRNA technology platform created by the University of Pennsylvania, we aim to develop the mRNA vaccine in record time, and demonstrate that it can protect against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants. Our team is proud and excited to start this project and contribute to the global efforts to control SARS-CoV-2 and variants.

Dr Hong-Thai PHAMCEO of BioNet

Enabling equitable access

CEPI is committed to the principle of equitable access to the vaccines it funds. Under the terms of the funding agreement, BioNet has committed to achieving equitable access to the outputs of this project, in line with CEPI's Equitable Access Policy.

[1] Betacoronaviruses are types of coronavirus that cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which have been responsible for outbreaks in Asia and the Middle East in recent years, and also SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


About CEPI

CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines against future epidemics. Prior to COVID-19 CEPI's work focussed on developing vaccines against Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever virus and Chikungunya virus—it has over 20 vaccine candidates against these pathogens in development. CEPI has also invested in new platform technologies for rapid vaccine development against unknown pathogens (Disease X).

During the current pandemic, CEPI initiated multiple programmes to develop vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants with a focus on speed, scale and access. These programmes leverage the rapid response platforms developed by CEPI's partners prior to the emergence of COVID-19 as well as new collaborations. The aim is to advance clinical development of a diverse portfolio of safe and effective COVID-19 candidates and to enable fair allocation to these vaccines worldwide through COVAX.

CEPI's 5-year plan lays out a $3.5 billion roadmap to compress vaccine development timelines to 100 days, develop a universal vaccine against COVID-19 and other Betacoronaviruses, and create a "library" of vaccine candidates for use against known and unknown pathogens. The plan is available at http://www.endpandemics.cepi.net.

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About BioNet

BioNet is a biotech company focusing on bio-innovation and access to genetically-designed vaccines. BioNet is the world's only manufacturer of recombinant monovalent pertussis vaccine (Pertagen®) and recombinant TdaP vaccine (Boostagen®), both containing a genetically-inactivated pertussis toxin.

BioNet's vision to forge global product partnerships has led to the rapid development of genetic vaccines using DNA and mRNA technology platforms. Clinical development of BioNet COVID-19 DNA candidate vaccines are conducted in Australia by Technovalia and partners. BioNet has been manufacturing a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chulalongkorn University and the University of Pennsylvania.

BioNet is now developing a pancoronavirus mRNA vaccine with the support from CEPI. BioNet is leading a global consortium composed of US and Thai universities and the International Vaccine Institute.

BioNet's main locations are Bangkok, Thailand and Lyon, France with a vaccine manufacturing plant in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Our team of more than 200 people across the globe are fully dedicated to the development, manufacturing and supply of vaccines against re-emerging and pandemic diseases.

Address: BioNet-Asia Co. Ltd, 19 Soi Udomsuk 37, Bangkok 10260, Thailand



About CEPI BioNet BPCoV2 project

BioNet has been awarded a grant from CEPI for the development of a broadly protective SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine using an mRNA technology platform originally developed at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). The vaccine aims at providing broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants. BioNet is the lead partner of a vaccine development consortium which brings together an interdisciplinary team of experts from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), University of North Carolina (UNC), University of California-Davis (UCD), Chulalongkorn University and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI). Research will be conducted in the US by Penn, UNC and UCD. Pre-clinical studies will be performed in the US and Thailand. Production of candidate vaccines will be undertaken by BioNet in Thailand. Clinical development will be led by IVI (South Korea).


Email: [email protected]

Phone: +44 7387 055214


Wassana Wijagkanalan, CEPI-BioNet BPCov2 Project Leader

Email: [email protected]