In June 2004, at Sea Island, the G8 endorsed the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. This is a mechanism, first proposed in June 2003, which aims to enhance coordination, information sharing and global collaboration amongst the world's HIV vaccine researchers in industrialized and developing countries in both private and public sectors. It seeks to prioritize the scientific challenges that need to be addressed, coordinate product development efforts and encourage greater use of information sharing technologies. As a result, existing resources will be better aligned and would be channeled more efficiently. It also aims to promote more effective synergies between research into new technologies and global efforts to scale up the preventive and therapeutic interventions for HIV/AIDS which already exist.
The scientific strategic plan for the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise has now been published. The plan was developed with the collaboration of over 140 scientists and other participants from 17 countries and several international organizations. The plan seeks to identify critical unanswered scientific questions along the critical path for vaccine discovery, from antigen design to the conduct of clinical trials.
The plan also summarises the organizational arrangements for the Enterprise:
"The Coordinating Committee will facilitate all aspects of the Enterprise's activities. This committee consists of representatives of the Enterprise founders as well as additional scientific leaders selected from inside and outside the field of HIV vaccine research and development. The committee will develop procedures for term rotation and inclusion of new members, to ensure appropriate representation of all relevant partners, and will engage external stakeholders for advice, expertise, and assistance, appointing technical expert groups as needed. A Secretariat will provide logistical and administrative support to the Coordinating Committee and Enterprise partners. The BMGF will serve as Interim Secretariat until a permanent Secretariat is established."
The paper has some interesting statistics on current levels of funding for R&D into an AIDS vaccine:
"Global expenditures on HIV vaccine research and development in 2002 were tentatively estimated to be on the order of US$624â€“670 million, the large majority (67.3%) provided by the public sector, followed by the philanthropic sector (17.4%) and industry (15.3%). An analysis of how those funds have been invested revealed that the large majority (43.1%) is being used in preclinical research activities, followed by clinical trials (28.2%), basic research (20.7%), cohort development and clinical trial infrastructure (6.5%), and vaccine education, advocacy, and policy development (1.4%) .
Initial estimates by Enterprise partners suggest that US$1.2 billion per year, or double the current expenditures on HIV vaccine research and development, will be needed. Although this amount may appear unrealistic at present, it would represent only a fraction of the total global expenditures in response to the AIDS pandemic and a very reasonable investment in view of the enormous social, political, and economic consequences of the pandemic. However, it is essential that the proposed increase in funding for HIV vaccine R&D be additional to existing AIDS expenditures, and not at the expense of current prevention, treatment, and care efforts."