Seeking predictors of vaccine efficacy: identifying correlates of protection to support vaccine development

This one-off funding call will support research teams to establish or validate correlates of protection across 11 diseases with the potential to cause substantial outbreaks or which have significant burden, and have no licenced vaccines. Having a range of reliable metrics to predict vaccine efficacy will support effective vaccine development, especially in low resource settings.

Scheme at a glance 

Lead applicant career stage:
Administering organisation location:
Anywhere in the world (apart from mainland China)
Funding amount:

Up to £5 million

Funding duration:

Up to 3 years


Next deadline 

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About this call 

Millions of lives are saved each year as a result of vaccination. However, infectious diseases still disproportionately affect those living in parts of Africa and Asia, and we need new vaccines to tackle both endemic and emerging infectious diseases. Wellcome published the effective vaccine ecosystem report [PDF 2.8MB] in 2021, identifying barriers to vaccine development and what drives clinical development decisions at each stage. In order to inform vaccine candidate selection we need to build evidence on protective immunity in vaccine target populations earlier in clinical development.

Traditionally, licenced vaccines undergo testing in randomised controlled trials to determine efficacy against clinical endpoints. Such trials can be costly and take many years to complete. When trials are not feasible, for example when a disease has low or unpredictable incidence, or when very large or complex trials are needed, clinical development can stall. Identification of correlates of protection could significantly reduce cost and time taken to develop vaccines by serving as alternatives to clinical endpoints, informing earlier go/no-go decisions on which products are likely to meet efficacy endpoints, and guiding clinical trial design where efficacy testing would otherwise be unfeasible.

By jointly funding this call, Wellcome and CEPI want to address the barriers currently hampering the discovery and validation of reliable correlates of protection.

At a Wellcome workshop in September 2022, stakeholders, including developers, regulators and policymakers, identified a lack of consistency in data collection, analysis and presentation as barriers, and highlighted an urgent need to standardise approaches to develop robust data sets at earlier stages of development.

With this call, we aim to support coordination and collaboration between stakeholders across vaccine development to generate these robust datasets and expand the list of correlates of protection available for vaccine development. The funded research will generate data packages that can support decision-making in vaccine development, including those needed for licensure.

Eligibility and suitability 

About your proposal 

What we offer 

How to apply 

Key dates 

You must submit your application by 17:00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day. We don’t accept late applications.

  1. 6 February 2024

    Preliminary application deadline

  2. March 2024

    Full applications invited

  3. 21 May 2024

    Full application deadline

  4. August 2024

    Funding decisions communicated

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