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UK government announces £14 million grant to International AIDS Vaccine Initiative

September 20, 1999

First major government grant will speed scientific effort to develop a preventive AIDS vaccine for the world's poorest countries

NEW YORK, 20 September 1999—The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative's campaign to develop a preventive AIDS vaccine for the world's poorest countries gained important momentum on Thursday when the government of the United Kingdom announced a £14 million (US $23 million) grant.

It was the first major government grant for IAVI, which has drawn its support from private foundations, international agencies and individuals. "This grant will serve as a powerful catalyst to our efforts to develop a globally accessible AIDS vaccine and will help enlist other governments in this cause," said Dr. Seth Berkley, M.D., IAVI's president.

Noting that this was the first major public sector support for IAVI's collaborative model of vaccine development, Dr. Berkley added, "We salute the United Kingdom for its vision and leadership. Vaccine development is beginning to assume its proper place in the world's AIDS prevention agenda."

"The World's Best Hope for Ending the Epidemic"
About 16,000 people become infected with HIV every day, according to UNAID. More than 95% of them live in developing countries and have little access to the expensive combination therapies that are prolonging life in industrialized nations. Even in developed countries, infection rates remain unacceptably high and patients on combination therapies are experiencing serious side effects and viral resistance. "A preventive vaccine is the world's best hope for ending this epidemic for all time, " Dr. Berkley said. About 16,000 people become infected with HIV every day, according to UNAID. More than 95% of them live in developing countries and have little access to the expensive combination therapies that are prolonging life in industrialized nations. Even in developed countries, infection rates remain unacceptably high and patients on combination therapies are experiencing serious side effects and viral resistance. "A preventive vaccine is the world's best hope for ending this epidemic for all time, " Dr. Berkley said.

The Rt. Hon. Clare Short, U.K. Secretary of State for International Development, announced the historic contribution at the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth, England. "I can announce today that Britain will contribute £14 million to help fund the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. The profit motive alone will not provide a vaccine affordable to the poor. Only international funding from governments will ensure that we get a vaccine that is effective, safe and accessible to the poorest people in the world, " she said.

IAVI's research focuses on vaccines that would be most useful in developing countries. Such vaccines would be inexpensive to manufacture, easy to transport and administer, stable under field conditions and require few inoculations. IAVI has also negotiated agreements with its industry partners to ensure that vaccines will be made available in developing countries at just above the cost of manufacture. "Dealing with the access issue at the start of the process represents a wholly new approach to vaccine development that will ultimately benefit both industrialized and developing countries," Dr. Berkley said.

IAVI's Strategy: Simultaneous Tests of Different Vaccine Approaches
"We are scouring the globe for the most promising vaccine approaches to fast track," said Wayne Koff, Ph.D., IAVI's Vice President for Research and Development. "While the scientific challenges to successful AIDS vaccine development remain considerable, we believe that the simultaneous testing of a wide variety of different vaccine approaches will yield the fastest path to safe and effective AIDS vaccines." He said IAVI would be very shortly announcing a series of new scientific initiatives.

"We are scouring the globe for the most promising vaccine approaches to fast track," said Wayne Koff, Ph.D., IAVI's Vice President for Research and Development. "While the scientific challenges to successful AIDS vaccine development remain considerable, we believe that the simultaneous testing of a wide variety of different vaccine approaches will yield the fastest path to safe and effective AIDS vaccines." He said IAVI would be very shortly announcing a series of new scientific initiatives.

At the heart of IAVI's scientific program is the Vaccine Development Partnership, a collaborative model that links scientists in industrialized and developing countries with those in private industry. IAVI provides funding, expert support and guidance to move a promising vaccine approach from the idea stage into clinical trials as rapidly as possible. The first two Vaccine Development Partnerships were launched in 1998. Clinical trials are expected to begin next year. The new funding from the United Kingdom and other sources will allow IAVI to launch and manage up to four additional vaccine development projects.

IAVI's first two Vaccine Development Partnerships link scientists in the U.K. and Kenya, and the United States and South Africa, respectively. IAVI is currently exploring new collaborations linking academic and biotech industry vaccine designers in the U.S. and the European Union with clinical researchers in India, China and Africa.

U.K. Grant Launches New Campaign to Raise US $100 Million
Since its inception in 1996, IAVI has raised nearly US $75 million toward the US $350 million to $500 million budget outlined in the organization's Scientific Blueprint for AIDS Vaccine Development, a global scientific strategy to accelerate AIDS vaccine development. In May, IAVI announced a US $25 million contribution from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest charitable contribution in the history of the epidemic. The UK's grant represents the cornerstone of IAVI's new campaign to raise US $100 million by the end of 2001.

Since its inception in 1996, IAVI has raised nearly US $75 million toward the US $350 million to $500 million budget outlined in the organization's Scientific Blueprint for AIDS Vaccine Development, a global scientific strategy to accelerate AIDS vaccine development. In May, IAVI announced a US $25 million contribution from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest charitable contribution in the history of the epidemic. The UK's grant represents the cornerstone of IAVI's new campaign to raise US $100 million by the end of 2001.

"This breakthrough grant has opened the way for the broad-based, global fundraising campaign so critical to speeding the day when a preventive AIDS vaccine is at hand," said Lee Smith, chair of IAVI's board of directors and the former president of Levi Strauss International.

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. IAVI also works with large developing countries to assist them in creating national AIDS vaccine programs. IAVI operates with a small secretariat in New York City, and representation in Europe and Africa.