Five governments and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $1.5 billion to help give poor countries better access to vaccines against pneumococcal disease such as pneumonia and meningitis.
The Advance Market Commitment programme creates financial incentive with a guaranteed price to persuade companies to invest the large sums of money it takes to develop new vaccines.
The GAVI Alliance, the Gates-funded group established to speed delivery of vaccines against a wide range of disease to the developing world, will run the programme and allocate another $1.3 billion for it.
“We look forward to pharmaceutical firms applying to the Advance Market Commitment quickly in order to ensure the rapid introduction of life-saving vaccines,” Julian Lob-Levyt, chairman of the Geneva-based GAVI Alliance, said in a statement.
Pneumococcal disease kills more than 1.6 million people worldwide each year, including at least 800,000 children. More than 90 percent of the deaths occur in the world’s poorest countries.
Vaccine research is often viewed as a low priority by pharmaceutical companies, especially when the target market is the developing world.
The current vaccine costs more than $70 per dose in the industrialised world but the new programme funded by the governments of Italy, Britain, Canada, Russia and Norway aims to bring the long-term price down to $3.50 in poor countries.
“This innovative new model will mean faster access to vaccines for millions of children in poor countries,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said in a statement.
The programme aims to spur vaccine development by guaranteeing a price. This commitment provides pharmaceutical companies with the incentive to do the research and to build manufacturing capacity, the GAVI Alliance said.
The goal is to introduce the vaccines in up to 60 of the world’s poorest countries by 2015 as part of the challenge to make the treatments part of regular immunisation programmes.
SourceL The Daily Star, June 20, 2009