– Jerome Kim, International Vaccine Institute Director General
– On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of IVI’s development and delivery of cholera and other vaccines
By Kim Sung-mo, The Chosun Ilbo
October 10, 2017
“Investment in vaccines can bring a 16-fold return, and a $1 investment can result in $16 in savings through disease prevention,” said Jerome Kim (58), IVI Director General, citing research by Johns Hopkins University in an interview marking the institute’s 20th anniversary. The Director General added, “IVI developed an oral cholera vaccine that has been introduced in Haiti and Malawi and elsewhere, saving the lives of children and the impoverished in developing countries.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.9 million people worldwide get infected with cholera each year, and 95,000 of them die. IVI developed a vaccine that is inexpensive and easy to administer, which has been introduced in 14 countries to save lives and reduce the burden of disease treatment. IVI is the world’s only international organization devoted to development and delivery of vaccines for people in developing countries, especially children. It was established in 1997 as an initiative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and is headquartered in Korea.
“IVI serves as an ‘accelerator’ to develop and deliver vaccines with support from governments, philanthropic foundations and corporate sponsorships and coordinates efforts to ensure that vaccines are produced and supplied speedily at affordable prices.” Director General Kim specifically credited the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, founded by the Microsoft co-founder and his wife, and the Swedish government, among others, for supporting development of the oral cholera vaccine. IVI transferred the vaccine technology to EuBiologics, a Korean company, and an Indian firm in order to mass-produce the vaccine.
IVI is also developing a vaccine against typhoid fever, a ‘disease of the poor,’ with the aim to have the vaccine commercialized in three to four years and is pushing to develop a vaccine against MERS in cooperation with partner companies.
Recently, IVI has been working to create the “Research Innovation in Global Health Technology,” an international public-private partnership fund. The Gates Foundation (25%) and the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare (50%) are set to provide contributions to the 50 billion-won fund, while domestic biotech and pharmaceutical companies will invest 25%.
Director General Kim, a Korean American, is a grandson of the late Kim Hyun-ku, who led Korea’s independence movement overseas with former President Rhee Syung-man. Kim reportedly chose to come to Korea as IVI Director General due to his grandfather’s love of his fatherland. As a world-renowned authority on HIV vaccine research, Kim expressed concern about the rapid and broad spread of infectious diseases. “Investment in vaccines is investment in the future,” he concluded.
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