HIV Vaccine: When Can We Expect Its Launch?

Researchers have moved closer to creating an effective HIV vaccine. Three trials are set to begin final stages of testing across the globe and experts said a vaccine may come out before mid-2020s. 

The HIV vaccine trials are called HVTN 702, Imbokodo and Mosaico. The progress puts the medical community in “one of the most optimistic moments we have been in," according to Susan Buchbinder, director of the Bridge HIV research program at the San Francisco Department of Public Health and chair of the Imbokodo and Mosaico trials.

“We have three vaccines currently being tested in efficacy trials and it takes quite a bit to actually be promising enough in the earlier stages stages of trials to move you forward into an efficacy study," Buchbinder said. 

HVTN 702 is known as the oldest of the three ongoing trials. It started in South Africa in 2016.

The potential HIV vaccine is a modified version of another vaccine candidate, called RV144. Tests with RV144 showed the vaccine could reduce the rate of infections by nearly 30 percent. 

However, the first vaccine also had limitation, which forced researchers to stop the tests. But its new form HVTN 702 was able to address issues and has been considered the only HIV vaccine that ever demonstrated any efficacy against the virus.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said HVTN 702 “aims to provide greater and more sustained protection than the RV144 regimen and has been adapted to the HIV subtype that predominates in southern Africa,” known as HIV-1 clade C.

Researchers are expected to release results of the HVTN 702 trials in late 2020 or early 2021, NBC News reported. Meanwhile, different teams of scientists are working on the Imbokodo and Mosaico tests. 

Imbokodo already recruited 2,600 women from five southern African nations for the final stage of trials. This HIV vaccine relies on “mosaic” immunogens to induce immune responses against various global HIV strains.

“The presumption is that a mosaic is going to give you broader coverage,” Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, said. 

Work on the Mosaico tests started in November. It also uses the same mosaic immunogen approach like Imbokodo to fight HIV in the body. 

Mosaico plans to test the potential HIV vaccine with 3,800 gay men and transgender people at 57 sites in the U.S. and Europe. The Mosaico research team may announce findings in 2023, while Imbokodo trials are expected to issue results in 2021.

Fauci said if one of the three vaccines being tested appears safe and effective after the tests, “that would be the endgame" for the decades of work on finding a way to stop HIV from spreading.

HIV Vaccine Three HIV vaccine projects have moved to final stages of testing and experts hope to see results by mid-2020s. Pixabay