The UK Vaccine Network brings together industry, academia and relevant funding bodies to advise the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on research and development investment. The UKVN Project implements the network's recommendations. The project supports the development of vaccines and vaccine technology for infectious diseases with the potential to cause an epidemic in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The network also supports the development of policy tools and serves as a forum for shared learning.
Role of the group
Vaccines are widely recognised as an important mechanism in controlling infectious disease outbreaks. However, outbreaks of some of the world’s deadliest diseases only occur intermittently, and often in the world’s poorest countries. This can mean that there is not a strong market incentive to for the pharmaceutical industry to develop vaccines for such diseases.
The UK government is taking concerted and coordinated action to address this market failure. The UK has committed to invest £134 million of Official Development Assistance (ODA) between 2016 and 2022 to develop new vaccines for such diseases. These investments are informed by expert advice from the UK Vaccine Network.
The UKVN Project is funded by UK Aid. All reporting and governance documents are published in accordance with the International Aid Transparency IATI standard. Since 2020, all UKVN Project documentation has been published directly to the UK Vaccine Network page on the development portal (d-portal.org). You can find additional information about the project’s activity there including the project’s annual reviews.
Membership of the UK Vaccine Network
The UK Vaccine Network is made up of leading experts from academia, industry and policy. All members are invited to join the Network in a personal capacity, not as representatives of specific organisations or bodies.
Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer to the Department of Health and Social Care
Johan Van Hoof
The UK Vaccine Network operates through a series of working groups. Each group has a specific focus and they feedback their findings to the Network. A full list of contributors for each working group is listed at the bottom of this page.
Working group 1: identify and prioritise human and zoonotic diseases
Chair: Miles Carrol, Professor of Emerging Viruses, University of Oxford
Working group 1 identifies and prioritises human and zoonotic diseases with epidemic potential in humans, for which vaccines can have an impact. The group also looks for gaps in knowledge about these diseases and where human and veterinary vaccinology can learn from each other.
Due to significant developments in vaccines since the project began, DHSC reconvened a working group in autumn 2022 to review the 2016 priority pathogen list. The aim was to ensure the priority pathogen list continues to reflect UK investment priorities in responding to global health threats.
Working group 1 have prioritised 12 pathogen families of infectious agents for investment by the UK Vaccine Network Project. Within each priority family, the group has recommended the following priority or exemplar pathogen(s) for which there is an unmet vaccine need as a focus of funding:
Table: priority pathogen list - viruses
|Lassa fever virus
|Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
|Marburg virus, Sudan ebolavirus
|Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) virus
|Rift Valley Fever (RVF) virus; Dabie bandavirus (formerly severe fever with thombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) virus)
Table: priority virus pathogen list - bacteria
|Q fever (Coxiella burnetii)
|Plague (Yersinia pestis)
The UKVN will not fund research on individual pathogens for which there is an existing licensed vaccine, or a vaccine candidate in advanced stages of development. An exception to this is where it is within a multivalent vaccine candidate which includes pathogens for which there is no licensed vaccine.
UKVN funding will also support vaccine technology development suitable for responses to novel pathogens. These include new or newly recognised or characterised pathogens (‘disease X’), and known pathogens which have changed substantially and present a serious public health threat.
When considering funding applications from researchers, we are open to funding work targeting other pathogens within the priority families, where applicants can make the case for an alternative. The exception to this is any proposals for SARS-CoV-2 in the Coronavirus family, for which there are multiple licensed vaccines available, and further research will not be funded through the UKVN.
The UKVN will also not consider any proposals for funding influenza research. This reflects both the existing significant investment in this area, and that the funding would be unlikely to meet the test of ODA eligibility – which is that the primary purpose of the funding is to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries.
Working group 2: Understand how a vaccine will impact on an epidemic disease outbreak
Chair: Eleanor Riley, The Roslin Institute
Working group 2 aims to develop a systematic, shared understanding of under what circumstances a vaccine is likely or unlikely to have an impact on an epidemic disease outbreak. This includes outbreaks where the pathogen is not currently known, and what vaccine technologies could play an important role in future outbreaks. The group has created a decision tool based on this work.
Working group 3: Produce a process map for vaccine development, from discovery to deployment
Chair: Tarit Mukhopadhyay, University College London
Working group 3 produces process maps for vaccine discovery, development, manufacture and deployment. These will help to understand where the main rate limiting steps are for any given vaccine and mean that these can be addressed efficiently. See the process maps.
Working group 4: Look at the manufacture of vaccines
Chair: Jeffrey Almond, University of Oxford
Working group 4 considers questions around the manufacture of vaccines, such as:
where could a small scale or large scale facility make a difference in the UK
what could we build and where and with whom could or should we collaborate
what existing facilities are there that could support scale-up for manufacture of small stockpiles
The Department of Health and Social Care is funding several projects to develop:
candidate vaccines for priority pathogens
technologies and processes to support vaccine manufacturing and delivery in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
A total of over £134 million has been committed to date.
The following table shows a summary of past research competitions run by delivery partners. The attachment above has further information about individual projects funded through these competitions.
In addition, in 2016, £2.95 million of the UKVN Project’s budget was used to make a one-off contribution to the PATH product development partnership.
Table: summary of past research competitions run by delivery partners
|Vaccine Development Competition successful pre-clinical projects
|up to £10 million
|Preclinical Vaccine Development Competition
|up to £25 million
|Clinical Vaccine Development Competition
|up to £35 million
|Vaccines for epidemic diseases: readiness for clinical development and regulatory submission
|up to £11 million
|National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
|Projects funded to support late pre-clinical research and early clinical development of vaccine candidates (run by NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre)
|up to £15 million
|Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
|Funding awarded to develop two collaborative vaccine manufacturing hubs
|up to £20 million
|National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
|Epidemiology for Vaccinology Competition – (run by NIHR Central Commissioning Facility branch)
|Up to £5 million
|‘One-Health’ Vaccinology Competition – number of smaller grants to support antigen discovery and disease understanding for viral and bacterial families that impact on animal and human health in LMICs.
|Up to £6 million
Working group contributors
|Working group 1
|Working group 2
|Working group 3
|Working group 4
|Jeffrey Almond (Chair)
|Miles Carroll (Chair)
|Niranjan Kanesa Thasan
|Niranjan Kanesa Thasan
|Tarit Mukhopadhyay (Chair)