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New Initiative Includes CAN$ 5 Million Grant to Accelerate Vaccine Development

June 05, 2000

New Initiative Includes CAN$ 5 Million Grant to Accelerate Vaccine Development

NEW YORK, 5 June 2000—Seth Berkley, M.D., president of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), issued the following statement upon learning of the Canadian government's new CAN$ 120 million initiative to combat HIV/AIDS in developing countries.

"The Canadian government has stepped forward with a proactive and ambitious program to fight the global spread of HIV/AIDS.

"On behalf of the board and staff of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, I applaud the Canadian government for its leadership and, especially, for its recognition that the accelerated development of an affordable AIDS vaccine must be part of the world's HIV prevention agenda.

"I also want to thank Maria Minna, Minister for International Cooperation, and Len Good, President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), for their personal commitment on this issue, and for recognizing IAVI's work in developing countries.

"Canada now joins the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in providing multi-million dollar support for the work of IAVI."

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is a nonprofit 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 public support through advocacy and education, and encouraging industrial involvement in AIDS vaccine development. IAVI draws most of its funding from governments, foundations and multilateral institutions. Its major donors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Starr Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation; the World Bank; and the governments of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and, now, Canada.

IAVI's scientific program seeks to maximize the number of promising vaccine candidates in clinical trials. Promising approaches lacking commercial sponsorship are prioritized and identified for funding by IAVI's Scientific Advisory Committee. At the heart of the scientific program is the Vaccine Development Partnership, a collaborative model that links scientists in industrialized and developing countries. IAVI provides funding, technical expertise, project management, and regulatory guidance to move promising approaches into clinical trials as rapidly as possible.

IAVI's research focuses on vaccines that would be most useful in developing countries. These vaccines would be inexpensive to manufacture, easy to transport and administer, stable under field conditions and require few doses. IAVI has also negotiated agreements with its partners to help ensure that vaccines will be made available in developing countries at just above the cost of manufacture. IAVI calls this approach "social venture capitalism." Unlike traditional venture capitalists, who seek equity in return for their investments, IAVI seeks a commitment that the vaccine, if successful, will be provided to the poor in developing countries at a reasonable price.