West Africa Lassa fever Consortium (WALC)
What is WALC?
The West Africa Lassa fever Consortium (WALC) was established in 2021 to develop an end-to-end framework for Lassa fever treatment, extending from clinical development to product availability, incorporating a flexible, multi-drug trial platform, that is regionally driven and owned.
To date, no treatment has been specifically developed and none is registered for Lassa Fever, a viral haemorrhagic fever present exclusively in few countries in West Africa. There is therefore no set path and no classical financial motive to develop treatments for Lassa Fever.
While Lassa fever is a public health priority in parts of West Africa, where it is endemic, the caseload is concentrated in countries where patients or health systems do not have sufficient purchasing power to be an attractive investment case for classic pharmaceutical business to develop therapies.
Apart from supportive care, only one drug – ribavirin – is available to treat it, but the evidence-base for its effectiveness is weak. There are potential candidate treatments to test clinically, but the path to registration and the methodologies for use have not been developed.
A coordinated approach using a portfolio of treatments within platform trials is therefore crucial to improve efficiencies and maximise chances of having effective, affordable treatments available for Lassa fever.
An end-to-end framework was built, extending from clinical development to product availability, incorporating a flexible, multi-drug trial platform, that is regionally driven and owned.
The outputs of the project were agreed upon by regional and international stakeholders, including those conducting research (researchers, developers), beneficiaries (health practitioners, patients, communities), and norm-makers (policy makers, regulators).
We formed a consortium including ISARIC (International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infection Consortium), NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control), Alima (Alliance for International Medical Action), WaCa (Médecins Sans Frontières West and Central Africa Operational Directorate), and Kineta Inc. This work was supported by a grant from Wellcome for one year.
Location of WALC partners and collaborators in West Africa
What the WALC produced
Global challenges in preparedness and response to epidemic infectious diseases – Molecular Therapy
Breakthrough treatments for Ebola virus disease, but no access—what went wrong, and how can we do better? – The Lancet Infectious Diseases
Annexes to supplementary materials