Denmark today became the first European country to support the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation's efforts to develop a safe, effective tuberculosis vaccine with announcements of new financial commitments and scientific partnerships. The agreements, announced today in Copenhagen at an update on TB vaccine development, strengthen Denmark's continuing role in the fight against TB.
Danida, the Danish development agency, will invest DKK 4.5 million (US$785,000) from its Public Private Partnerships programme to fund the development of a vaccine trial site in South Africa undertaken by Aeras in cooperation with Medicon A/S. Aeras is an international NGO that is currently funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It focuses on developing new vaccines against TB and ensuring their universal availability. TB, which kills 2 million people a year, is the world's second deadliest infectious disease and the primary cause of HIV-related deaths.
Jerald C. Sadoff, MD, President and CEO of Aeras, said:
"A new TB vaccine is the best weapon against this terrible disease. Denmark has always played an important role in combating TB, and is now leading by example as the first European country to support our global campaign to develop a safe, effective TB vaccine. Aeras is very excited about forging a strong relationship with Denmark and looks forward to bringing to bear the resources of all countries of conscience in these efforts."
In addition to the Danida grant, the Danish research company Medicon A/S announced it will help build clinical research infrastructure in South Africa to pave the way for large-scale Phase III TB vaccine trials in 2007. The Danish Statens Serum Institut (SSI) will also collaborate with Aeras to form a joint product development team to develop better TB vaccine candidates.