IAVI REPORT – VOL. 19, NO. 3, 2015
A few days ago I took my daughter for her flu vaccine. She’s three, and like most three-year-olds she has a lot of questions about everything. I don’t always know the answers. Many of them require a Google search (what sound does a walrus make, is just one that stumped me). But when she asked what a flu vaccine was and why exactly I was going to let someone squirt a spray up her nose, I was only too eager to answer. For her, hearing that a vaccine keeps you from getting sick was enough. In fact she enjoyed the experience so much she asked when she gets to go back for another, providing the perfect opportunity for me to discuss why flu vaccines are needed every year!
For many children around the world vaccines are an unaffordable luxury. But thanks in large part to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, that is changing. Over the last 15 years, Gavi has successfully worked in multiple ways to bring life-saving vaccines to the poorest children in the world. They report immunizing 500 million children so far, and will use the hefty donor resources they raised through their replenishment conference earlier this year to vaccinate 300 million more, an effort they estimate could save six million lives. In this issue we look at how Gavi works to negotiate lower prices for vaccines in the poorest nations and how vaccine prices have changed given the introduction of newer and more complex shots.
This issue also features an exclusive interview with Mark Feinberg, who stepped into the role of President and Chief Executive Officer of IAVI in early September. Feinberg brings a wealth of experience in vaccine research, development, and deployment to IAVI. His most recent position in his wide-ranging career was Chief Public Health and Science Officer for Merck Vaccines. Feinberg discusses his vision for the organization and how his experiences at Merck introducing new vaccines, as well as his most recent efforts to test a vaccine candidate against Ebola, have shaped his views about the HIV vaccine field.
Finally, we round out the issue with some talk about science and policy. We have a commentary piece on the critical role non-human primate studies can and should play in HIV vaccine development, a brief outlining several bold steps taken recently by international agencies that are all meant to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS or eliminate it entirely, and another brief on a recently held symposium on germinal center dynamics and HIV antibody maturation. I’m just waiting for my daughter to ask me about germinal centers—I’ll be ready.
—Kristen Jill Kresge