GAVI Alliance pledging conference for immunisation held on 13 June 2011 in London

Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman and managing director of Serum Institute of India (SII) on the occasion of the pledging conference by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation industry (GAVI) held in London made a commitment to cut the price of its penta-valent vaccine by 60 % and make it available to the world community at US$ 1.75 (about Rs. 100) per dose - the lowest possible cost in the world.

Making this announcement in the presence of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and British Prime Minister David Cameron who attended the pledging conference, Dr. Poonawalla said that “"the very genesis of Serum Institute was a quest to make

Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla along with British Prime Minister David Cameron & Bill Gates at the GAVI pledging conference held in London.

vaccines more affordable for the common man and that the mission to further children's health in developing countries has been at the heart of the institutes business model right from when we started manufacturing life-saving vaccines at the lowest affordable prices and providing them to UNICEF and PAHO”.

"While we recognise our moral responsibility to keep these vaccines affordable, I strongly believe that it is appropriate for other manufacturers, especially the big pharma companies to also follow our lead and make vaccines available at more affordable prices; otherwise our effort to offer vaccines at lower prices will be defeated," he added.

“Over the last 20 years, we have established ourselves as the most reliable and largest WHO pre-qualified vaccine producer in the world for the measles and measles-rubella combined vaccines, and the diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and hepatitis-B combined vaccine. These vaccines have been offered approximately at the cost of a cup of tea to UN agencies, GAVI and other countries, especially India. Recently, we have donated about 12 million doses of the measles-rubella vaccine to countries such as Laos and Uzbekistan and supplied 18.5 million doses at a 50 per cent discounted rate to the Philippines in conjunction with the WHO/UNICEF”, Poonawalla said.

Over the last eight years, the Serum Institute has worked with partners to develop a new meningitis A vaccine for outbreaks in the sub-Saharan region. Based on a new conjugate technology, the vaccine has the potential to provide long-lasting protection against the disease. Already, several million doses have been successfully used in the region at less than 50 cents per dose.

Dr. Poonawalla called on global donors to ensure long term funding beyond 2015, and urged them to consider the boons of vaccination for children in the most vulnerable countries. Serum Institute, which exports to 130 nations is also developing affordable rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines for GAVI and expects to get WHO approval for these.

“For the first time in history, children in developing countries will receive the same vaccines against diarrhoea and pneumonia as children in rich countries,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Together we must do more to ensure that all children – no matter where they live – have equal access to life-saving vaccines.”

The GAVI Alliance is a Geneva-based public-private partnership aimed at improving health in the world’s poorest countries. The Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.