There are currently more than 30 HIV vaccine candidates in trial around the globe, but estimates of global demand for a vaccine have so far been based on vaccine characteristics that do not reflect the ones in development.
A realistic assessment of the potential public and private demand for an HIV vaccine is important, argue Robert Hecht and Chutima Suraratdecha.
First, it would help persuade governments and industry to fund more research and product development, and would encourage investment from Western donors to compensate for the limited purchasing power of poor developing countries.
Second, it would give the pharmaceutical industry a better idea of the scale of manufacturing facilities needed to ensure sufficient production of the vaccine.
Third, it would help to inform research decisions: if a vaccine is only partially effective, can only be administered to adolescents and adults, or is very expensive, its demand and further development are likely to be affected.
Finally, such an assessment would guide government plans for vaccination programmes and strengthen vaccine delivery systems.
It is critical, say the authors, that a renewed effort be made to develop models that reflect the key drivers of demand and can be updated in coming years.