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In the wake of the catastrophic West African Ebola outbreak a few years back, a group of key players in the global health sphere launched an initiative aimed at fast-tracking development of vaccines for diseases that could cause devastating outbreaks.

In a major step, that organization known as CEPI — the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations — said this week that it has awarded its first contract, an agreement with an Austrian biotech company to develop vaccines to protect against Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and Lassa fever.

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