Uganda’s HIV Vaccine Trial Discontinued

ugandas hiv vaccine trial discontinued
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A clinical trial for an experimental HIV vaccine in Masaka, Uganda, named PrEPVacc, has been halted due to concerns about its effectiveness in preventing HIV infections. The study, initiated in December 2020, focused on testing experimental vaccine regimens and a novel form of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Dr. Eugene Ruzagira, the trial director from the Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (MRC/UVRI & LSHTM) Uganda Research Unit, revealed that the Independent Data Monitoring Committee analyzed the collected data. The committee concluded that there is little or no evidence to suggest that the tested vaccines reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. Vaccinations for PrEPVacc trial participants have consequently been stopped.

The PrEPVacc initiative, led by African researchers in Entebbe, Uganda, and supported by 15 partner organizations from Africa, Europe, and the US, is sponsored by Imperial College London. Despite the setback, Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, the Chief Investigator of PrEPVacc, emphasized the ongoing importance of developing an HIV vaccine for Africa.

The failure of the vaccine comes three decades after a previous trial for an experimental HIV prevention vaccine in Uganda. The current trial used an experimental vaccine candidate from the Switzerland-based EuroVacc Foundation.

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Uganda, like other countries globally, aims to end AIDS by 2030, with preventing new infections being a crucial element. Although the vaccine trial has been paused, the follow-up of participants will continue for additional safety data collection, HIV testing, and referral for ongoing care for six months after the last vaccine injection or until the end of the oral PrEP trial, whichever is longest. The independent committee recommended the oral PrEP component of the study to continue to completion.

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