The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) hosted a virtual State Forum today to advocate for multilateral cooperation through vaccine diplomacy. During a coronavirus pandemic with the continuous threat of more neglected infectious diseases spreading around the world, the forum convened a panel of country ambassadors and vaccine experts to promote partnership and equity in global health.
"Our coming together today is visible evidence of the kind of solidarity that will end this pandemic, prevent the next one, and control and eradicate more neglected diseases that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries," said George Bickerstaff, Chair of IVI's Board of Trustees, in his welcome.
The forum was livestreamed online from IVI headquarters in , Korea and featured remarks from First Lady Kim Jung-sook of the Republic of Korea and Queen Sylvia of Sweden, as well as ambassadors from the Republic of Korea, Sweden, India, Finland, Mexico, and Pakistan.
A panel of leaders in global health urged support for stronger partnership, including Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization; Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Dr. Richard J. Hatchett, CEO of CEPI; Ms. Etleva Kadilli, Director of the Supply Division at UNICEF; and Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
IVI's 2020 annual State Forum commemorated the international organization's founding in October of 1997 under the theme of "Building Vaccine Diplomacy and Advocacy." Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General of IVI, presented on IVI's approach to sustainable vaccine development, highlighting South-South and Triangular Cooperation as catalysts for diplomacy and making available life-saving vaccines.
Ending the COVID-19 pandemic and ridding the world of other dangerous though 'neglected' infectious diseases will require countries to commit to vaccine diplomacy with the support and partnership of the scientific community, international organizations, and industry."
Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General, International Vaccine Institute