The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has signed an agreement with Clover Biopharmaceuticals Australia, a subsidiary of China-based Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals, to support the development of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

Under the deal, CEPI will provide $3.5m funding support to prepare and launch a Phase I trial of Clover’s protein-based Covid-19 S-Trimer vaccine in Australia.

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The vaccine is based on Clover’s Trimer-Tag vaccine technology platform, which can generate the novel coronavirus’ spike proteins in a native trimeric form for use in a vaccine.

Clover said that the company can use its in-house biomanufacturing capabilities to rapidly scale up the production of the vaccine, if successful in human trials.

Clover Biopharmaceuticals chief strategy officer Joshua Liang said: At Clover Biopharmaceuticals, we are proud to receive CEPI’s funding and support for Clover Australia, which are critical to enabling the ongoing development and acceleration of our Covid-19 S-Trimer vaccine programme that utilises our innovative Trimer-Tag platform technology.”

In February, Clover Biopharmaceuticals partnered with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to develop its Covid-19 S-Trimer vaccine candidate.

The agreement was intended to leverage GSK’s pandemic adjuvant system to assess the vaccine candidate in preclinical studies.

Clover is the ninth organisation to receive CEPI support and funding for Covid-19 vaccine candidates.

CEPI provided support to Curevac, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Moderna, Novavax, The University of Hong Kong, The University of Oxford, The University of Queensland and a consortium led by Institut Pasteur.

CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett said: “We are delighted to partner with Clover Australia on their innovative Covid-19 S-Trimer vaccine candidate. They produced their vaccine within a month of the virus sequence becoming available, and they have rapidly advanced toward a first-in-human trial.

“This vaccine candidate is an important new addition to the CEPI portfolio. CEPI has invested in a diverse range of innovative vaccine platforms, as well as more established vaccine technologies, to maximise our chances of success as we pursue our ambition of making Covid-19 vaccines available for broad use.”

Recently, CEPI opened a representative office in Shanghai to potentially work with China to prevent and control pandemic diseases.