The president of the South Africa Medical Research Council Professor Glenda Gray has made it known that a newly improved HIV vaccine is being tested on 100 people and scientists will know by May from the results of the trial, if they can test it on 7000 people.
The HIV vaccine which is the only one so far shown to be reasonably effective against the virus after 30 years of research, is presently undergoing trial on 100 people in the country. It is designed to activate the immune system to fight the virus.
Results from the test will be coming in by May. If and when the vaccine yields a positive result and proves effective to the cause, regulators of the research will give the green light to commence a larger trial involving about 7000 test subjects.
If things go according to plans and the trial on the 7000 is successful, then its good news for everyone as the drug can now be licensed and sold to the public.
The expectations of the researchers on the vaccine are not too high and they are not looking at a 100% protection from HIV. Varying degrees of protection was derived during a similar trial of the vaccine in Thailand.
However, Prof Gray revealed that South African scientists have modified the HIV vaccine used in Thailand, making it more potent coupled with an extra injection to be administered on the subjects with hope that it will have a lasting effect this time around.
“I wish we had done this vaccine trial in South Africa nine years ago, when it went to Thailand,” he said
Researchers will give 1700 women in sub-Saharan Africa a drip containing antibodies against HIV by next month. This is a move by scientists to determine whether the presence of the antibodies ensure protection against the HIV virus. South African women have been recruited ahead of the trial.
This antibody which protects against multiple strains of HIV is only created by a little percentage of patients. The participants in the trial will receive a drip once every two months for approximately two years.