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International AIDS Vaccine Initiative applauds Clinton initiative to develop and distribute vaccines in developing countries

January 27, 2000

DAVOS, Switzerland, 27 January 2000—Seth Berkley, MD, president of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, issued the following statement at the World Economic Forum in response to U.S. President Bill Clinton's Millennium Vaccine Initiative:

"President Clinton's initiative is a giant step forward in the global effort to develop and deploy affordable vaccines for the world's leading killers. We salute the President for his leadership and call upon other countries to join the effort.

"President Clinton has put forward a balanced and forward-looking plan that should energize vaccine development at every level, from the university lab bench to the pharmaceutical industry board room. President Clinton's initiative also recognizes the critical need to enhance medical infrastructure in developing countries and to provide existing vaccines to the world's poorest countries.

"We are especially gratified that President Clinton has recognized the vital role of the pharmaceutical industry in vaccine development. The $1 billion tax credit for malaria, TB and AIDS vaccines should be a powerful incentive for private industry investment in vaccine development. We look forward to working with the Administration and the Congress as they work through the details of this proposal.

"Now that the President has expressed his willingness to put money on the table, we challenge the pharmaceutical industry to take up the cause, or to work with us to improve the proposal. With 15,000 new HIV infections every day, there is no time for political posturing or game playing.

"We also strongly support the U.S. proposal for the World Bank to increase health spending by $400 million to $900 million annually. Under the leadership of James Wolfensohn, the World Bank has recognized that an AIDS vaccine for developing countries is an international public good that won't happen without innovative public-private partnerships."

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative is an international non-profit scientific organization founded in 1996 whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world.

IAVI's work focuses on three areas: accelerating scientific progress, mobilizing political support through advocacy and education, and encouraging industrial involvement in AIDS vaccine development.