In South Africa, the HIV pandemic is being tackled with new fervour – with
two new vaccines that work in different ways being tested here.
This may lead to the first vaccine licence ever awarded to South Africa.
Local and overseas scientists involved
Prof Linda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council
and Dr Larry Corey from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in the USA
made the announcement in Cape Town on Monday.
The clinical tests form part of the international HIV Vaccine Trials
Network, costing about $100 000 million and supported by various
organisations and institutions. Scores of local and overseas scientists are
involved in the process.
Read: Promising HIV trial fails
In the first clinical trial which has already started, researchers
adapted a vaccine that was tested in Thailand to South Africa’s HIV strain.
A substance that strengthens the effect of the vaccine on the body was
The first group of 252 people in South Africa are already involved in
the study and will receive eight vaccinations during a period of one-and-a-half
Yearly booster injection
In the Thai study, the efficiency of the vaccine was reduced to 31.2%
after three-and-a-half years. After a year it was still 60% effective.
Gray explained that they will administer a booster vaccine within a year
to make it more effective.
If the results show promise, we will involve 5,000 people next year and “we
hope to have the results by 2020. It will be the outcome of work started here
already in 2009,” she said.
This vaccine (RV144) works in the same way as all other vaccines: The
body has to manufacture antibodies to attack the pathogen. It appears that in
the case of HIV it might be necessary to administer a yearly booster injection
because of decreasing immunity.
The second vaccine will involve 3,900 people in America, South America
and Africa South of the Sahara. This will include clinical areas across South Africa.
These tests will start in January. “We are optimistic that it will work, but
one must never underestimate a virus,” Corey said.
The results of this study will be available by the end of 2018.
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Article translated from Netwerk24