Vaccine plan could save six million lives

Atusha is 37 but looks twice her age. Wheezing into an oxygen mask and clutching her one-year-old son, she tested positive for HIV two years ago.

Atusha is 37 but looks twice her age. Wheezing into an oxygen mask and clutching her one-year-old son, she tested positive for HIV two years ago.

Until recently she lived in Uvira, a four-hour drive south of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, unaware that medical science could have helped her. By the time she arrived at a Médecins Sans Frontières clinic her immune system had been weakened and she had developed tuberculosis.

Weak, unable to talk, her eyes barely focusing, Atusha languishes, her son in her arms, waiting to die. It is too late for Atusha, but, yesterday, Gordon Brown offered hope in the fight against Aids in Africa. The Chancellor of the Exchequer held out the prospect of a viable Aids vaccine being developed as part of a $10bn (£5.3bn) a year programme to end the devastating trail of the disease. A total of $100bn by 2015.

Vastly increased investment in research could save six million people by cutting three years off the likely timescale for developing a vaccine to combat the HIV virus, he said. The United Nations estimates that HIV/Aids has infected 39.4 million people and killed 3.1 million in the past year alone. In a speech aimed at increasing support for his plans to double annual aid to the Third World in the years up to 2015, Mr Brown, starting a tour of Africa, appealed to Western powers to sign up to his proposals to raise international aid by $50bn a year.

He said the world should make fighting HIV and Aids one of its top priorities by devoting a fifth of the money to research and treatment. Mr Brown has spent two years seeking support for his international finance facility (IFF), which aims to double funds for international development. The scheme, the cornerstone of Britain's plans to tackle global poverty during its presidency of the G8, aims to "lever in" funds by using long-term commitments on aid funding from wealthy countries to allow additional money to be raised on the international markets.

Mr Brown also called on the West to pledge to buy 300 million doses of a future Aids vaccine. Mr Brown believes such a guarantee would create a $6bn market for the drug and ensure that the pharmaceutical industry pours in the necessary funds for research and development. At present, £400m is spent each year on research into an effective vaccine for HIV, only £60m of which comes from the private sector.

Speaking last night at the High Commission in Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian capital, Mr Brown said: "My ambition, and the Government's, is that by 2015 as a result of investing in research there will be a preventative vaccine [for HIV].

"If we just keep spending at the current level we could expect to have a partially effective vaccine for the developing world, one that could save 40 million lives and around $900bn over the subsequent decades, only by 2015 at best or more likely 2020, 15 years from now.

"But if by doubling research and development spending over the next five to 10 years we could bring forward the discovery of an Aids vaccine by three years and we could save six million lives ... future HIV/Aids treatment costs could be reduced by $2bn a year."

Calling for a "comprehensive plan", the Chancellor said he would announce next month a system of international collaboration for scientists, modelled on the project to map the human genome, to ensure that the world's research community could maximise its efforts.

The Chancellor also called for more support for efforts to supply Third World countries with antiretroviral drugs for people already infected, and unveiled a £150m commitment to help children orphaned by the disease.

He said he had the support of 50 nations, including France, Italy, Sweden and the Nordic states, for the IFF. The Treasury has yet to persuade the US to sign up to the deal, but Mr Brown insisted his proposals for increasing aid could be put into operation even if the whole developed world did not sign up.

The scheme is designed to raise billions of dollars to allow the world to meet its Millennium Development Goals for 2015, which aim to halve extreme poverty, give all children access to primary education and improve health for millions of people.

The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria warmly welcomed Mr Brown's proposals. Professor Richard Fearchem, its executive director, said: "Gordon Brown's ideas are big and bold; just what we need to win the war against this virus. Without the IFF, we cannot conquer Aids, TB or malaria and we cannot achieve the other Millennium Development Goals."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'