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IAVI Welcomes New Canadian Collaborative Initiative To Complement and Enhance Ongoing AIDS Vaccine Efforts

February 20, 2007

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) issued this statement on February 20, 2007 following an announcement made by the Canadian government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to pledge up to CAD$139 million for the creation of a Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI). The new CHVI will contribute to the global effort to develop a safe, effective and accessible AIDS vaccine and build upon Canada’s long-term commitment to HIV prevention efforts.

IAVI recognizes the critical importance of enhancing and expanding existing AIDS vaccine efforts to move more novel candidates targeting different immune responses into the pipeline and to speed feedback on their safety, immunogencity and efficacy. We applaud Canada and the Gates Foundation’s leadership in establishing this new collaborative initiative that will capitalize on Canadian expertise in AIDS vaccine development – from research and policy to community engagement. In addition, the CHVI will foster partnerships with resource-poor countries that bear the burden of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The funding specifically calls for the development of an AIDS vaccine facility in Canada to manufacture promising AIDS vaccine candidates for use in clinical trials, thereby helping to accelerate research and shorten the AIDS vaccine development timeline.

“Canada has been a long-time supporter of AIDS vaccine research and has demonstrated laudable leadership in tackling the AIDS epidemic comprehensively, with a dual focus on both treatment and prevention,” stated Seth Berkley, CEO and President of IAVI. “As a program of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, of which IAVI is a founding member, the CHVI will work to coordinate critical domestic research with ongoing international efforts to tackle one of the most significant public health challenges we face today.”

“IAVI has benefited significantly from the generous support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Canadian International Development Agency, as well as other donors. Developing an AIDS vaccine is an urgent and complex scientific challenge, and the more talent and expertise focused on this goal, the sooner we will be able to create the tools necessary to end the epidemic and save millions of lives around the world,” Berkley added.

Canada is one of the first countries in the world to create a national HIV vaccine plan that promotes a comprehensive strategy for vaccine research, advocacy and funding. As one of the initial contributors to IAVI’s AIDS vaccine development programs, Canada’s invaluable early leadership helped to leverage vital support from other world governments. Most recently, Canada awarded its fourth grant to IAVI, totaling CAD$20 million over two years, to support IAVI’s mission to speed the development and widespread uptake of an AIDS vaccine. With Canada’s critical support, IAVI has continued to accelerate the development of HIV vaccines in Phase I/II clinical trials in Africa as well as to prepare for large-scale efficacy trials, building scientific capacity and improving the environment for AIDS vaccine R&D in developing countries.