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Agreement to Provide Pneumonia Vaccine to Poor Children Expected to Save Millions of Lives

The GAVI Alliance and two leading pharmaceutical companies have signed an agreement to provide low-cost life-saving vaccines to millions of the world's poorest children. Each year, the World Health Organization reports an estimated two million children under age five die of pneumonia. This disease is responsible for about one-quarter of all child deaths.

GAVI Alliance CEO Julian Lob-Levyt says pneumonia kills more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. "And more than 90 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries. So, today, I am very proud to announce that GAVI is signing a landmark agreement with GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) and Pfizer to provide long-term supplies of a revolutionary new vaccine against this major killer of children," she said.

The Geneva-based public-private alliance, and GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer say supplies of the new vaccine to Africa and other developing countries will start early this year at a fraction of the price charged in industrialized countries.

Lob-Levyt says cost is the major reason why the vaccine has been unavailable to children in the poorest countries.

He says the introduction of affordable vaccines against pneumococcal disease could save nearly one million lives by 2015 and up to seven million lives by 2030.

"Pfizer and GSK will sign 10-year legally binding agreements to begin supplying this vaccine, a total of seven million doses. Over the course of the next couple of years, they will scale up their production capacity to increase their annual supplies to 30 million doses each. These vaccines will be made available at a price of $3.50 per dose, approximately 90 percent less than the cost in most industrialized countries," he said.

Lob-Levyt says the dramatic drop in the price is not the only significant aspect of the agreement. He says children in developing countries will be receiving the new pneumococcal vaccine just one year after its introduction in Europe and at the same time as the United States.