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UK pledge to HIV/AIDS vaccine

The UK government plans to create a commercial market for an HIV/AIDS vaccine by securing purchases of the vaccine from developed countries.

The UK government plans to create a commercial market for an HIV/AIDS vaccine by securing purchases of the vaccine from developed countries.

Speaking in Tanzania during a six-day tour of Africa, Chancellor of the Exchequor Gordon Brown said that he hoped pledges from developed countries would encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop a vaccine against the disease.

If the most developed countries pledged to purchase 300 million doses of a vaccine at Ä15 each, Brown said, this would create a Ä4.5bn guarantee for a future market. ìThis would be a large enough inducement to create a much stronger interest from both large and small pharmaceutical firms,î he said.

The UK government recently took a similar approach to malaria vaccine research. In November last year, it purchased 300 million doses of GlaxoSmithKline's investigational malaria vaccine, Mosquirix, to create demand for the product.

Brown also urged developed countries to work together to form a worldwide infrastructure to co-ordinate HIV/AIDS research: ìA way forward cannot involve one initiative in isolation but requires us to focus on prevention, cure, treatment, capacity building and anti-poverty strategies.î

ìInvolvement in all these must move together and tackling HIV/AIDS in developing countries requires us to bring all our resources to bear,î he added.

He also criticised research efforts to secure an HIV/AIDS vaccine and called upon developed countries to increase R&D funding to $10bn a year. This figure, he argued, would hasten the discovery of a vaccine by three years and save millions of lives.

ìIt is generally recognised that the sums of money required involve at least a doubling of money for AIDS research. If we just keep spending at the current level, we could expect to have a partially effective vaccine for the developed world - one which could save 40 million lives - only by 2015 at best or more likely 2020,î he said.

However, charity ActionAid criticised Brown's calls, arguing that ìa generation of peopleî would be condemned to death as an HIV vaccine would not be available for at least 10 years.

Simon Wright, head of HIV/AIDS at ActionAid said: ìHIV is decimating African countries, killing the most productive adults who should be working, caring for children and building the economy. Treatments are needed now.î

30th September 2008

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