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1,600 volunteers to participate in first HIV vaccine trial

Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, the Director of Uganda Virus Research Institute-URVI and chief investigator in the PrEPVacc trial.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than one thousand volunteers have been enrolled to participate in another version of the HIV vaccine trial conducted by Ugandan scientists at the Medical Research Council-MRC.

The new HIV vaccine known as “PrEPVacc” is being tested for its efficacy in the prevention of HIV, and at the same time, a second test is being done on a new form of daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) known of discovery, against the existing standard for PrEP (Truvada).

Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the Director of Uganda Virus Research Institute-URVI/MRC and chief investigator in the PrEPVacc trial says the testing which began on Tuesday at the research site in Masaka will be clustered in five groups ranging between 18 to 40 years of age from HIV high-risk communities in Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa.

He describes the trial as an African-led HIV vaccine efficacy trial which is directly coordinated by Ugandan scientists and one of its kind to be conducted outside the United States of America. Professor Kareebu says that they are going to run a two-ways prevention study that will include administering of both oral PrEP and injectable vaccine within the same trial, adding that in the first phase of six months, the selected volunteers are going to be monitored for their responses.

He adds that such a significant HIV vaccine trial conducted in Uganda presented to them two great opportunities which include growing their capacities in conducting big studies as well as earning confidence in the scientific research world.

He also indicates that the PrEPVacc trial has made history as this is the first time UVRI gets at a stage of testing HIV vaccine efficacy, the third phase in the process of vaccines development and is it also the first of its kind in the whole of the East African sub-region.

Doctor Eugene Muzagira, the Director and Chief Investigator of the study explains that they have been preparing for this efficacy trial since 2018.

He adds that they have also since completed several preparatory and early-phase studies in which they have also prepared the communities for the process and meeting the scientific regulatory requirements.

The PrEPVacc trial, a scientific study funded by the European Union and Development Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) will according to its design run-up to March 2023, when it results are expected to be out.

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