President Bush Proposes Spending $15 Million To Begin New G8 HIV Vaccine Initiative
President Bush on Thursday proposed that the United States contribute $15 million to start a new global consortium to collaborate and share research to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine, the AP/Washington Times reports (AP/Washington Times, 6/11). Group of Eight leaders from the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia on Tuesday at a summit in Sea Island, Ga., announced the formation of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise to speed the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine and streamline research and development efforts. The plan calls for the establishment of HIV vaccine development centers throughout the world, the expansion of manufacturing capabilities, the creation of standardized measurement systems, the construction of clinics for trials and the creation of rules allowing regulatory authorities in different countries to recognize the results of foreign clinical trials, according to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci. In addition, the initiative will encourage scientists from developing nations to play a larger role in the search for a vaccine (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/10). A coordinating center for the initiative will be established in the United States using the proposed $15 million in initial funding (AP/Washington Times, 6/11). The United States, which currently holds the G8 presidency, is expected to convene a meeting on the initiative later this year (Agence France-Presse, 6/10).
People's bodies have "a lot of trouble handling ... HIV ... , which means that there are a lot of scientific problems that we need to solve before we get a vaccine," Fauci said, adding, "The only way we're going to do that is if everybody globally who's working on this works on it in a synergistic way" (AP/Washington Times, 6/11). UNAIDS and the World Health Organization on Friday released a statement welcoming the initiative. "The Global Vaccine Enterprise will bring a new political and financial dimension addressing the complex challenge of developing a safe and effective HIV/AIDS vaccine," WHO Director-General Jong-Wook Lee said. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said that the initiative will be a "vital boost" to help "forge the strategic planning, collaboration and global investment of resources by governments and industry that is commensurate with the intensive effort required to develop a globally accessible and affordable HIV vaccine" (UNAIDS/WHO release, 6/11). However, Irungu Houghton, Africa policy adviser for Oxfam, said more needed to be done to fight the disease, according to London's Guardian. "We need a much more comprehensive approach. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is still under-financed and seems mired in bureaucracy," Houghton said (Teather, Guardian, 6/11).
African Vaccine Efforts
Toronto's Globe and Mail on Saturday examined several efforts in Africa to develop an HIV vaccine. The research in South Africa "symbolizes an important shift," because until recently "virtually all research on a vaccine was being done in the developed world, using the B strain of HIV that occurs mostly in North America and Europe," according to the Globe and Mail. However, most HIV-positive people in Africa are infected with other HIV types, including clades A, C and D. "Fifty-two percent of infections are subtype C," according to Glenda Gray, an HIV specialist and pediatrician at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa. She added, "It's absurd that the focus was not on C products" (Nolen, Globe and Mail, 6/12). The complete article is available online.
NPR's "Talk of the Nation/Science Friday" interviewed Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, about the G8 summit and efforts to fight disease, including HIV/AIDS, in the developing world. Sachs said that the "public clamor" over HIV/AIDS "with a long delay has finally" gotten the U.S. government to "start moving" to control the pandemic "many years after it should have" and after HIV spread "tragically and unnecessarily to tens of millions" (Palca, "Talk of the Nation/Science Friday," NPR, 6/11). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.