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Still no vaccine to protect against HIV

Johnson and Johnson becomes the latest pharmaceutical firm to withdraw a possible contender.

“We hope to have a vaccine ready for testing in about two years. Yet another terrible disease is about to yield to patience, persistence and outright genius.”

So said Margaret Heckler, US Secretary of Health, on the HIV epidemic in 1984.

Yet four decades and some 40 million deaths later, the world still doesn’t have a vaccine to protect against HIV.

Last week, Johnson and Johnson became the latest pharmaceutical firm to withdraw a possible contender.

The US company announced that its vaccine, the world’s only candidate to have still been in late-stage trials, was ineffective.

The study, known as Mosaico, tested the shot in 3,900 men and transgender people across North America, South America and Europe. But while analysts found it was safe, the trial was halted because the vaccine did not prevent more HIV infections than a placebo.

It is yet another blow for an important area of research that has become used to disappointment.

To date, eight HIV candidate vaccines have reached late-stage clinical trials. All have failed at the final hurdle, with just one showing signs of modest efficacy in a trial in Thailand between 2003 and 2006.

Johnson and Johnson was attempting to build upon the modest success of the Thai study, but in the end it just didn’t work.


Read more: Another HIV vaccine has failed – so what happens next?

Published by Bijbelvorsers

Flemish Bible researcher, belonging to the Belgian Biblestudents. - Vlaams Bijbelvorser, behorende tot de Belgische Bijbelstudenten.

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