Center for Pandemic Vaccines and Therapeutics
Vaccines are among the most effective tools in the fight against the spread of pathogens. In the early phase of a pandemic, therapeutics can mitigate severe courses of a pandemic infectious disease. Preparing optimally for future pandemics, the German Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesgesundheitsministerium, BMG) has established the Center for Pandemic Vaccines and Therapeutics – ZEPAI – at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI). Professor Dr Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding has been appointed acting director.
ZEPAI’s core task in pandemic-free times is building an infrastructure to provide safe and efficient vaccines and therapeutics as quickly as possible in the event of a pandemic.
Based on this infrastructure, ZEPAI will coordinate and support all relevant steps for the provision of pandemic vaccines and therapeutics during a pandemic. This includes the activation of reserved manufacturing capacities, the procurement and distribution of vaccines and other medicines in Germany based on pre-established storage capacities and stable distribution routes.
Together with partners at national, European and international levels, ZEPAI aims at developing solutions to ensure the availability of safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics in adequate quantities for the population in Germany within a few months in the event of a pandemic.
ZEPAI – Fields of Action
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that pandemic preparedness and response require a coordinated and strategic one-stop solution that takes into account all processes - from development and approval to manufacturing and distribution of appropriate vaccines and therapeutics.
To be appropriately staffed and ready to act in the event of future pandemics, ZEPAI is establishing an interdisciplinary pool of experts. The team will cover the entire spectrum of pandemic-relevant disciplines, including drug manufacturing, logistics, infectiology, law, communication and public health services.
ZEPAI's work focuses on four central fields of action:
I. Manufacturing and Storage
ZEPAI accompanies and supports the entire process of vaccine production with sustainable infrastructure measures. This includes the provision of manufacturing and storage capacities. Thus, ZEPAI will ensure the rapid and need-based procurement and distribution of vaccines and therapeutics in the event of a pandemic.
II. Monitoring and Management
ZEPAI will establish digital data collection and monitoring structures to facilitate an effective, targeted and future-proof procurement and distribution of vaccines and therapeutics. Thereby, ZEPAI can manage and optimise the planning and logistics concerning pandemic vaccines and therapeutics.
In the event of a pandemic, excellent networking is essential to speed up the development, production and distribution of vaccines and therapeutics. Hence, ZEPAI will establish robust lines of communication with national and international stakeholders. ZEPAI aims at initiating and supporting strategic collaborations with pandemic-relevant public institutions and private companies at both national and international levels.
ZEPAI provides its full expertise to all stakeholders that look for exchange and advice in creating innovative solutions for operational pandemic preparedness. Therefore, ZEPAI can act as a central advisory unit for pandemic preparedness and response with vaccines and therapeutics.
ZEPAI – Management
Professor Dr Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding
"At ZEPAI, we are gearing up for future pandemics at an early stage. Together with partners, we will rethink all relevant aspects for providing pandemic vaccines and therapeutics, design innovative solutions and implement them in a timely manner."
Professor Dr Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding joined Paul-Ehrlich-Institut as Head of the Division of Microbiology in 2015. Her research and clinical focus is infectious diseases.
Her broad regulatory expertise includes microbiological safety of biomedicines, evaluation of products in the field of infectious diseases and preclinical and clinical vaccine development.
She served as a member of the Pandemic Task Force and the Vaccines Working Party of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as well as chair of the scientific committee of the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 (IMI2). Thus, Professor Dr Bekeredjian-Ding looks back on several years of experience in one of the internationally most important public-private partnerships in healthcare.