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AVAC in the News

  • At the end of August, disappointing results were released from Imbokodo, a phase IIb clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of an HIV vaccine candidate developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Among cisgender women recruited in five African countries, the vaccine regimen didn’t offer significant protection against acquisition of HIV infection. The outcome underscores the difficulty of inducing protective immunity against HIV compared to other pathogens, and highlights the importance of making effective biomedical prevention options—oral or injectable pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the dapavirine ring—accessible to those in need, including women in the communities where Imbokodo took place.

    September 13, 2021
    Treatment Action Group
  • The news on Aug. 31 was devastating: After a decade of research and development, Johnson & Johnson announced that its experimental HIV vaccine showed no clear ability to prevent infection. Such was the unhappy end of the so-called Imbokodo study—the word means a “grinding rock” in Zulu and is attached to a famous saying about the strength of women. ... The results showed 63 new HIV infections among the women who got the placebo and 51 among women who got the vaccine—hardly a big enough difference to suggest that the vaccine was a grand slam.

    September 9, 2021
    The Body
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has severely set back the fight against other global scourges like HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, according to a sobering new report released on Tuesday. Before the pandemic, the world had been making strides against these illnesses. Overall, deaths from those diseases have dropped by about half since 2004. “The advent of a fourth pandemic, in COVID, puts these hard-fought gains in great jeopardy,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC....

    September 7, 2021
    New York Times
  • An HIV vaccine candidate trialed in Sub-Saharan Africa offers no substantial protection against HIV infection among young women, the study organisers say. According to a statement released this week (31 August) by Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the US drugmaker that produced the HIV vaccine candidate, the mid-stage Imbokodo study began in 2017, reached full enrollment in 2019 and completed vaccinations on 30 June 2020.

    September 3, 2021
  • The results [of HVTN 705, known as the Imbokodo study] are frustrating, said Carl Dieffenbach, PhD, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). To clinicians, Dieffenbach said the message of this HIV vaccine trial is flush with urgency: "Get your HIV-negative, at-risk people on PrEP tomorrow."

    September 2, 2021
  • For decades, a successful HIV vaccine has been an elusive concept for scientists and activists. During the last two years, research regarding HIV/AIDS hasn't garnered as much media attention largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But just because it hasn't grabbed as many headlines, doesn't mean it isn't still a prevalent issue today. According to the UNAIDS, in 2020, 1.5 million people around the world were newly infected and 680,000 died due to AIDS-related illnesses.

    September 1, 2021
  • An advanced HIV vaccine trial in Africa has been shut down after data showed the shots offered only limited protection against the virus, researchers announced on Tuesday. The vaccine, made by Johnson & Johnson, is one in a long line found to offer little defense against HIV, one of medicine’s most intractable adversaries.

    August 31, 2021
    New York Times
  • Johnson & Johnson stopped a mid-stage test of its HIV vaccine in southern Africa after the shot showed insufficient ability to protect people from contracting the virus. The trial, called Imbokodo, showed the vaccine was just 25 percent effective in preventing HIV infection over a period of two years, short of a goal of 50% efficacy, according to a statement. A similar vaccine developed by the drugmaker will continue being tested in Europe and the Americas in a final-stage study called Mosaico, Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, said.

    August 31, 2021
  • In June, Bhekisisa started doing research for an article that would explain how well Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine works and to gauge whether it would be suitable for use in South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. Soon enough, it was realised Sputnik V had flouted the rules of every part of the system that produces scientific research.

    August 24, 2021
    Daily Maverick
  • During the pandemic, researchers and academic journals have gone into hyperdrive in order to produce research at an accelerated pace. This means some sacrifices have been made when it comes to vetting and checking publications through peer review. The peer-review system was already flawed even in pre-pandemic times but the current environment has exposed ways in which bad science can slip through.

    August 20, 2021
    Health 24