The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) commends the leaders attending the Group of Eight (G8) Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany for prioritizing the development needs of Africa and policies to support forward-looking innovation policies that can help translate novel research concepts into tangible health products and services.
If G8 leaders are to meet their previous commitments to universal access in the fight against AIDS, then strong support is required for measures to expand existing prevention, treatment and care services and to invest in new tools for the future. We need a fully-resourced plan for ending AIDS, and new prevention options, including an AIDS vaccine, should have a prominent place in such a plan.
Every day an estimated 12,000 people become newly infected with HIV, 95 percent of whom are in the developing world. These numbers must be dramatically cut. A vaccine offers the best hope of ending the global pandemic. An AIDS vaccine would also give women and girls access to a new form of HIV prevention which they can initiate and control.
Much progress has been made recently in the search for a vaccine, but many challenges remain. We need additional support for scientific innovation to drive new approaches to AIDS vaccine design, as well as to shorten product testing and development timelines. Increased private sector involvement is also required, backed by adequate incentives and measures to mitigate companies’ financial risks. Increased resources for product development public-private partnerships (PDPs), which unite the public sector’s commitment to international public goods for health with private industry’s discipline and expertise, can also play a critical role.
IAVI welcomes a range of shared commitments expressed in the G8 communiqué that can favor more rapid development of an AIDS vaccine:
- Supporting a gender-sensitive response
G8 leaders recognized the growing feminization of the AIDS epidemic and the need to fund AIDS prevention, treatment and care options that address the needs of women and girls. IAVI believes that a critical component of such a response should include female-controlled prevention tools, such as microbicides and vaccines. Women would be able to use a vaccine with or without their partners’ knowledge, and adolescent girls, who are particularly vulnerable to infection, could also be protected through vaccination as pre-adolescents.
- Highlighting investment in R&D for new medicines and vaccines
The G8 called upon international organizations and donors to continue supporting investments in the research and development of new medicines, microbicides and vaccines, including promoting policies that encourage innovation. IAVI’s own applied research and clinical trials programs, partnerships with developing country governments and scientists, and its approach to policy and financing reforms are all characterized by innovation and informed risk-taking. We believe this is the best way to accelerate the development of a preventive AIDS vaccine which can save millions of lives.
- Creating innovative financing mechanisms
G8 leaders emphasized the importance of creating innovative financing mechanisms to mobilize additional resources for sustainable access to affordable vaccines and treatments. This means expanding support to the Advance Market Commitment scheme established at the end of 2006, and finding other ways to generate more public and private financing to fill gaps in the AIDS vaccine R&D pipeline, from early and translational research to bioprocess engineering and clinical trials. IAVI is actively exploring with its partners various innovative financing schemes, and looks forward to continuing G8 leadership and initiatives in this area in 2008 and beyond.
IAVI will continue to work with the G8 and other governments, as well as with our many scientific and NGO partners, in backing stronger actions to develop new AIDS prevention technologies which can enable countries to achieve the universal access goals for combating AIDS. We look forward to concrete progress leading up to next year’s G8 Summit in Japan