HIV vaccine trial in Africa halted after disappointing data

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A trial of an experimental HIV vaccine in Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa has been stopped early after preliminary data suggested it would not been effective in preventing infection, according to the trial’s chief investigator.

The news is the latest blow to efforts to find an effective vaccine against a virus that has so far claimed about 40 million lives globally. Another 39 million are living with HIV, the majority of them in Africa. The trial for the vaccine, part of a wider initiative called PrEPVacc, began in December 2020 with the enrolment of 1 512 healthy adults aged 18-40 and was due to end in 2024.

A statement released on Wednesday by the vaccine trial programme said the failed trial, which was the only remaining active HIV vaccine efficacy trial in the world, underscored “how challenging it is to develop an effective HIV vaccine”.