International Vaccine Institute director-general Dr. Jerome Kim (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Speaking at an event held in Seoul, the IVI director general said that although Korea’s experience with the Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak left the country better prepared to deal with COVID-19 policywise, vaccines remained the key tools to tackle infectious diseases.
“Vaccine preparation is the key to what we do against pandemic and epidemic diseases whose pathogens are on the antimicrobial resistance, high-priority pathogen list,” he said.
Kim said that over the last two decades Korea has moved from 20 percent self-sufficiency to 50 percent self-sufficiency, with a goal of being 80 percent self-sufficient by 2025.
“IVI is proud to be engaged with the Korean government making this transition in its vaccine industry and recognizing the power of biotechnology to change lives around the world,” Kim said.
He added that over the last 25 years the IVI has developed two vaccines, becoming one of the two organizations funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to have developed licensed vaccines.
“The vaccines that we develop are not only for use in low- and middle-income countries but that can be manufactured there, and we hope to develop the next generation of vaccines for global health,” he said.
The IVI has not produced its own vaccine for COVID-19, he said, and this was a strategic decision made in early 2020.
“We said we would help any organization that came to us with a vaccine that needed to move vaccines for COVID-19 forward,” he said. “All the vaccines that we’re testing in phase 3, we will contribute about 1 billion doses to the COVAX facility for global distribution.”
On the same day, the IVI formed an advisory group of outside experts to complement its scientific advisory group and help advise on diplomatic matters.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a former US special representative for global health diplomacy and a White House COVID-19 response coordinator, will be leading the new expert advisory group, which held its inaugural meeting Thursday.
Established in 1997 as a United Nations Development Program initiative, the IVI is the first international organization to be headquartered in South Korea, and the only international organization dedicated to the development of safe, effective and affordable vaccines.
By Kim Arin ([email protected])