— How can pharmaceutical companies be persuaded to develop vaccines for diseases of the poor, when poor people can't afford to buy them? The not-for-profit Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) and the World Bank have come up with a solution: rich countries should give money to poor countries to pay for the vaccines in advance.
This "Advance Market Commitment", launched in Rome on 9 February, has so far received $1.5 billion in donations from Canada, Italy, Norway, the UK, Russia and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to spur the development of new vaccines for pneumonia and meningitis caused by the pneumococcus bacterium.
"We're creating a market that doesn't exist at the moment," says Michel Zaffran of the GAVI Alliance. As a guarantee of quality, the vaccines won't be purchased unless they meet standards agreed and monitored by independent assessors. The hope is to save the lives of 5.4 million children by 2030.