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The need for translational research to generate the evidence for rational and efficient introduction of new vaccines: the success story of the International Vaccine Institute in Asia

Date: Thursday 1 November 10.45–12.15
Source: Forum 11
Authors: John Clemens, Director of the International Vaccine Institute, Republic of Korea
with Viveka Persson


Currently, a large number of countries, international agencies and philanthropies make large investments into private-public partnerships that focus on product development and increasing children's access to vaccines. A recent initiative is the Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) that was launched in Rome this year. It is an instrument that provides financial incentives to harness the creativity and resources of private-sector research and development to provide access to new vaccines to combat diseases that affect poor countries. While these initiatives are vertical and focus on the production, procurement and distribution of vaccines, there is a great need for translational research (studies on disease burden, cost-effectiveness, safety and feasibility) that generates the evidence needed for rationale and efficient introduction of new vaccines. In addition, activities aiming at strengthening the national regulatory authorities and local vaccine production capacity are needed to ensure that suitable vaccine technologies are transferred to manufacturers in developing countries and that they follow appropriate national regulatory standards.

The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) has a mission to contribute to the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases in developing countries through research that generates the evidence needed for rationale introduction of new vaccines. IVI was established a decade ago in the Republic of Korea, as part of a larger public sector process of change where several organizations are acting in mobilizing resources for procurement and distribution of vaccines in developing countries. Projects within IVI's translational research programme are conducted through existing infrastructures (Ministries of Health or other local partners). The analysis and cost reports of disease burden are communicated to policy-makers and planners. They are cooperating with developers and producers of vaccines in developing countries (e.g. Viet Nam, Indonesia and India) as well as industrialized countries (e.g. Australia, Canada, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America). The programme is strongly supported by relevant training (e.g. good clinical practice, demography and laboratory methods) and capacity-building (vaccine production according to good manufacturing practice and regulatory issues).

A recent evaluation of IVI concludes that the programme has had a major impact on policy decisions about vaccine development and introduction for a number of diseases, such as cholera, typhoid and rotavirus. It further affirms the role of IVI as unique and an excellent complement to activities undertaken by the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) and others in this area. IVI has shown during its first 10 years that it is filling major gaps that exist in translational research, technical support, training and capacity-building for vaccines of priority to developing countries. Finally, the evaluation recommends an expansion of IVI's translational research programme to Africa.