The Brucellosis Vaccine Prize, an innovative $30 million prize competition, is designed to encourage the development of an animal vaccine to combat brucellosis melitensis, a serious disease endemic in many parts of the developing world. A number of different prizes will be awarded over a ten year period, including a grand prize of $20 million and ten initial prizes of $100,000, eight of which have been awarded in recent months.
Brucellosis is a highly infectious disease caused by Brucella bacteria. It causes abortions, infertility, weight loss and problems with milk production in many animal species and flu-like symptoms when transmitted to humans. There are almost 900 million people in developing countries who depend on livestock and whose health and livelihoods could be seriously affected by the disease – it is estimated that the economic impact of brucellosis on smallholder farmers in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is $500 million a year.
There is a significant need for appropriate vaccines because the vaccines that are currently available require sophisticated management and are not well suited for use in developing countries. To date, there has not been a commercial incentive to tackle the problem and the Brucellosis Vaccine Prize was set up to change this. The competition asks developers to propose and then develop suitable vaccines against Brucella Melitensis in small ruminants. It is hoped that the resulting vaccines will lead to the prevention of brucellosis outbreaks, improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers, better health outcomes through improved access to healthy meat and milk, and a significant decrease in the rate of human infection.
The competition is funded by AgResults, a $122 million collaborative initiative between the Australian, Canadian, US and UK Governments and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Our client, the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), a partnership which develops livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics and establishes sustainable distribution channels to smallholder livestock and poultry keepers in developing countries, manages the competition.
Since launching in November 2016, the organisers have received many very good quality applications, from both academic and commercial organisations (often in collaboration with each other). Following the ten initial prizes of $100,000 (awarded in respect of initial applications to the competition), there will be four prizes of $1 million available to organisations that demonstrate successful efficacy studies. The grand prize of $20 million will be awarded to the first organisation that develops and registers a vaccine meeting certain minimum requirements. Finally, there is a ‘best in class’ prize of $5 million that will be awarded to the first organisation to register a vaccine which meets the same minimum requirements and one of the ‘best in class’ criteria within one year of the award of the grand prize. Further details about the prize can be found at https://brucellosisvaccine.org/.