Promising HIV vaccine clinical trial discontinued

Henrietta Brewer
February 4, 2020

It was testing an investigational prime-boost vaccine regimen based on the only vaccine regimen ever to show protection from HIV-the regimen tested in the RV144 clinical trial in Thailand led by the U.S. Military HIV Research Program and the Thai Ministry of Health.

That, unfortunately, means this vaccine regimen isn't effective at preventing new HIV infections.

"An HIV vaccine is essential to end the global pandemic, and we hoped this vaccine candidate would work".

The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, hosted by the International AIDS Society, has expressed deep disappointment that the Phase 2b/3 HIV vaccine study HVTN 702 has been stopped by the trial sponsor, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Late Monday, researchers announced that nearly four years later, they will stop administering the jab to the 5 400 people who enrolled in the trial at 14 sites across South Africa.

A clinical trial testing a promising HIV vaccine in more than 5,000 people in South Africa has been halted because it failed to show a benefit, US health officials said on Monday. It had a new booster and had been specially formulated for the HIV strains most common to South Africa. Those volunteers were sexually active men and women ages 18 to 35 who were randomly assigned to receive either the vaccine or placebo injections.

But over a period of at least 18 months, there were 129 HIV infections among those who got the vaccine and 123 HIV infections among those who were given the placebo.

"This is one of the most challenging viruses around to create a vaccine to protect, and this was a harsh reminder that this virus is smarter right now than we are in terms of developing a vaccine", he said. NIAID said that those study participants are being informed of the trial stopping and researchers will continue to follow study participants over time.

"The people of South Africa have made history by answering an important scientific question", said Glenda Gray.

"It is very disappointing that this vaccine candidate does not work, but the trial was well-conducted and got an answer as quickly as possible", Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, an HIV prevention advocacy group, said in a statement.

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