IVI in the Media
IVI Director General Jerome Kim Shares His Thoughts on the Current Challenges of Developing Vaccines for Global Health
IVI Director General Jerome Kim shares his thoughts on the current challenges of developing vaccines for global health in Dong A Ilbo, one of Korea’s major newspapers. He describes how organizations like IVI are filling the gaps in vaccine R&D for global health while at the same time contributing to Korea’s biotechnology sector. The Korean-language article can be found here:
An English translation of the article is below.
[In My View]
Key players in vaccine development for developing countries
By Jerome Kim, Director-General, International Vaccine Institute
Eighteen years ago, Korea became host to the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), an international organization. IVI’s mission is to discover, develop, and deliver safe, effective, and affordable vaccines for global health.
It can cost millions of dollars to develop and commercialize a vaccine, but IVI does not have the deep pool of financial resources to bring a vaccine to the market. IVI does not have the means to manufacture, distribute, and market a new product either. The “business case” seems implausible. Yet there is an oral cholera vaccine now available for use in developing countries. How did it come about? It was the result of a unique collaboration - IVI, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Korean government, and Korean and international vaccine companies. In the field of vaccines, as in high tech industries, there is a space called the “valley of death” where most ideas for new vaccines end if there are high risks and costs involved. IVI serves as a bridge across the valley of death. IVI fills an important gap in vaccine development.
The development of the cholera vaccine was led by IVI with support from the Korean government and BMGF who has an interest in safe, effective, and affordable vaccines for global health. IVI transferred the vaccine production technology to Korean and overseas companies and works with them to develop and manufacture . the vaccine. Eubiologics, a Korean biotech company, recently received export approval for its cholera vaccine from the Korean Ministry of Food & Drug Safety. For every $1 of Korean government support to IVI, $2 of overseas funding are obtained by IVI to assist Korean vaccine companies to enter the global health vaccine market. IVI is also working with companies like SK Chemicals to commercialize a typhoid vaccine using the same partnership model.
The low-cost oral cholera vaccine has yielded results. Recently, there was a cholera outbreak in Malawi, following severe flooding. More than 10,000 died from cholera outbreaks in Haiti in 2010 and South Sudan in 2013. In response to fears of a potentially massive cholera outbreak in Malawi, the government of Malawi, IVI, WHO, the government of Korea, and Kia Motors teamed up to vaccinate over 100,000 people using the cholera vaccine. IVI also joined forces with LG Electronics and conducted vaccinations in Ethiopia. In Nepal, following the tragic earthquake, efforts are underway to deploy the vaccine.
IVI is only one of two non-profit organizations in the world that have successfully brought a vaccine for the public-sector market. It isn’t often that ideas originating in a laboratory so clearly and dramatically impact a major public health emergency. It also shows the high value of government investment in biotechnology and vaccine research.
With support from Korea, organizations like IVI fill the gaps between a 21st century knowledge-based industry and the more basic needs of global health. This is an example of the creative economy that Korea is striving for.