Ready for the Future – Paul-Ehrlich-Institut Launches Center for Pandemic Vaccines and Therapeutics

18 / 2021

The decisive measure for combating pandemics is vaccination with safe and effective vaccines. In the event of future pandemics, vaccines must be made readily available to the population in sufficient quantities. Thus, appropriate preparations must already be underway in pre-pandemic times. Therapeutics can mitigate severe courses of the pandemic infectious disease in the early phase of the pandemic. For this purpose, the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesgesundheitsministerium, BMG) commissioned the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI) on 14 September 2021 to establish a Center for Pandemic Vaccines and Therapeutics (ZEPAI). In the future, ZEPAI will support and coordinate the development and production of vaccines as well as their distribution in the event of a pandemic. Its tasks include the establishment of corresponding infrastructures in Germany as well as national and international networking.

Vaccine Syringe and Ampoules (Quelle:

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has shown that despite the success of the development and approval of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine products in Germany and Europe within a year - unthinkable just two years ago - structured preparation for future pandemics is necessary. No time must be lost to protect public health and the lives of individuals in the event of a pandemic.

The BMG is drawing conclusions from its experience with the current pandemic: it has commissioned the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, to establish the Center for Pandemic Vaccines and Therapeutics (ZEPAI). Professor Dr Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding, Head of the Department of Microbiology at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, was appointed acting director.

In the future, ZEPAI will support the development and production of vaccines, the provision of suitable storage capacities and the establishment of stable distribution routes.

In collaboration with national and international partners, ZEPAI aims to develop solutions to make safe and efficient pandemic vaccines available in sufficient quantities within just a few months, for a prompt protection of the population through vaccination.

In the future, during pandemic-free periods, ZEPAI will use its expertise to support the conception of development projects in the field of pandemic preparedness and will accompany them with the aim of obtaining regulatory approval.

ZEPAI is a BMG-funded project at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut was chosen for good reasons. As the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut is responsible for clinical trial approval, authorisation, evaluation, experimental testing and official batch release, and adverse event monitoring of vaccines and biomedicines in Germany. Due to its national and international experience in regulatory support of vaccine development and its own research, its intensive scientific consulting activities for academic clinical researchers, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, as well as its international networking and reputation, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut offers important prerequisites to support the stakeholders along the entire vaccine life cycle with ZEPAI.

Professor Dr Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding, ZEPAI’s acting director: "At ZEPAI, the new Center for Pandemic Vaccines and Therapeutics at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, we will combine our regulatory excellence with innovative approaches for reliable vaccine supply during pandemics. I am looking forward to this responsible and challenging task."

Professor Dr Klaus Cichutek, President of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut: "With ZEPAI, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut will make a significant contribution to the provision of vaccines and therapeutics in the event of a pandemic. This will prepare the healthcare system in Germany for future pandemics."

Updated: 01.10.2021