2021 End of Year Message from Dr Michael Makanga, EDCTP Executive Director
Dear Colleagues, Partners and Friends,
Akin to 2020, this year has remained very challenging due to the protracted negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the second EDCTP programme has demonstrated laudable resilience and is yielding very tangible results on various fronts. Our grants portfolio has grown to a total cash value of €814.30 million invested in 431 projects – 84% towards research & development; and 16% towards highly transformative capacity development initiatives. These involve 41 African, 19 European and 8 other countries, and a corresponding constellation of 305 African and 203 European institutions, which characterise the highly collaborative nature of the programme.
“Despite the protracted COVID-19 pandemic, the second EDCTP programme (EDCTP2) has demonstrated laudable resilience and is yielding very tangible results on various fronts. After 8 years of implementing the EDCTP2 programme with the cooperation of the many EDCTP partners and constituencies, as well as the fully committed and reliable High Representatives and EDCTP staff, we are enthused to share our progress in the journey, so far.”
Dr Michael Makanga, EDCTP Executive Director
Research and development (R&D) through clinical trials and product-focused implementation research constitute the majority of investments in our portfolio. Our total investment has now reached €684 million (about 84% of grants funding), supporting 140 clinical research grants, several of which involve multiple clinical trials. Of these, 63% are Phase II and III trials, and many target highly vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, newborns, children and adolescents. A further 17% of projects are post-licensing (Phase IV) studies, including product-focused implementation studies, generating evidence highly relevant to policymakers.
This year we have registered some notable R&D successes which include among others:
- Malaria vaccines R&D: the Multi-Stage Malaria Vaccine Consortium (MMVC) published their Burkina Faso Phase IIb study results which demonstrated that the malaria vaccine candidate R21/Matrix-M is safe, immunogenic and has an efficacy of 77%, exceeding the WHO goal of 75% efficacy for malaria vaccines.
- Neglected infectious diseases therapeutics R&D: The Paediatric Praziquantel Consortium that is developing arpraziquantel, a new paediatric medication to treat schistosomiasis in preschool-aged children (3 months to 6 years), successfully completed its pivotal Phase III trial in Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya. The results of this trial, co-funded by the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund and EDCTP, confirm a favourable efficacy and safety profile for arpraziquantel for this population group. This allows the programme to progress towards regulatory file submission to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Moreover, EDCTP and GHIT are already co-investing in the Consortium’s treatment access programme in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Uganda. This ‘ADOPT’ programme prepares for large-scale access and delivery of the Consortium’s novel paediatric medication.
- HIV co-infections therapeutics R&D: We are filling the gap in funding for research on cryptococcal meningitis with advanced HIV disease. The AMBITION-cm Phase III trial carried out in five African countries and is the largest HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis treatment trial ever undertaken. This trial evaluating whether a single high-dose of liposomal amphotericin B works as well as the 7-day treatment regimen has revealed very encouraging results.