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World Leaders Address Dual Challenges of an AIDS Vaccine

February 04, 2002

Acceleration of science and development of access systems are focus of WEF workshop

New York, 4 February 2002 - The global search to develop and distribute a vaccine to prevent AIDS was the focus of a high-level workshop, sponsored by the Global Health Initiative (GHI) of the World Economic Forum. In attendance were business leaders of diverse sectors such as pharmaceutical, finance, media and mining. Also present were public health leaders including Dr Brundtland of the World Health Organization, Ms Carol Bellamy of UNICEF and Dr Peter Piot of UNAIDS.

Participants in the workshop concurred that to accelerate the development and wide-scale access to an AIDS vaccine would require a partnership among all sectors of society, each working from its comparative strength.

"Over the course of the five-day WEF, more than 70,000 people worldwide will become newly infected with HIV," said Seth Berkley, MD, President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in his opening remarks as workshop moderator. "A vaccine represents the world's best hope to end the epidemic. We need to plan now to change the historic trickle-down availability of vaccines from the developed to the developing world."

As science moves forward in efforts to develop an AIDS vaccine, with more than 10 candidates currently in the pipeline worldwide, focus will increasingly shift to the issues of access.

"It will take the combined efforts of government and regulatory agencies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, philanthropic institutions, scientists, affected communities--no country or company can tackle the obstacles alone," said Dr Hank McKinnell, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer during the session.

"For Mozambique, rapid access to a preventive vaccine is critical to reducing illness and death from HIV infection," said Prime Minister of Mozambique Pascoal Mocumbi. "The potential economic and social benefits that could result are enormous. The need to start looking for financing and other support to develop health systems is very urgent, because if we have sufficient resources- both financial and human- we can do this. The world should come together to address these problems."

Specific recommendations from the workshop include:

Adoption of a new global business model to accelerate every aspect of AIDS vaccine development and delivery.

Adoption of public policies including tax incentives, global financing and pricing mechanisms, to encourage maximum private sector participation.

Immediate galvanization of partnerships to build the research and healthcare infrastructures critical to prepare communities and conduct clinical trials in an open and ethical manner.

Building the manufacturing capacity--through both traditional and innovative avenues--to ensure an adequate supply of vaccine will be available upon approval.

Creation of a global advocacy campaign to build broad-based support to advocate to donor governments greater financing to enable health systems development, development that will have benefits far beyond the eventual distribution and delivery of an AIDS vaccine.

"Global leaders must respond- with extraordinary innovation and urgency to the global crises of HIV/AIDS. Together we must act as advocates and strategic planners to develop an AIDS vaccine and the systems to deliver it. This requires partnerships between all stakeholder groups," said Prof. Klaus Schwab, Founder and President of the World Economic Forum. "This workshop offers an opportunity for the global business community to step forward and commit to accomplishing the task."

"Delivering an AIDS Vaccine: Briefing Document" was written by IAVI in cooperation with the World Economic Forum.

The World Economic Forum (http://www.weforum.org), based in Geneva, Switzerland, is an independent organization committed to improving the state of the world. Funded by the contributions of 1,000 of the world's foremost corporations, the Forum acts in the spirit of entrepreneurship in the global public interest to further economic growth and social progress. The Forum serves its members and society by creating partnerships between and among business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society to define, discuss and advance key issues on the global agenda.

Incorporated in 1971 as a foundation, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit, and is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. In 1995 the Forum was awarded NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
LIVE ON THE WEB: Selected plenary sessions will be webcast over the Internet from the Annual Meeting 2002. In addition, special reports, press releases and speeches will also be posted on the site at http://www.weforum.org