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UVRI to conduct new HIV vaccine trial in May

Kampala, Uganda  | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Virus Research Institute will in May conduct a new HIV vaccine trial.

Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu the Executive director of Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), says that the participants will be given Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs to guard them against possible infection during the two year study period.

Speaking during a Science Café organized by the Health Journalists Network on Thursday, Kaleebu said they are planning to enroll over 1,600 participants that will be divided into three groups where one cohort will receive a placebo, and the other two groups will be given different types of vaccines.

He said for this trial they are modifying vaccine candidates that have shown progress in a previous trial conducted in Thailand in 2009 that had shown efficacy of 31.2%.

However, as this is happening, on Monday, the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases of the National Institute of Health stopped another HIV vaccine trial that has been happening in South Africa since 2016.

In that study, it had also modified the Thailand vaccine candidate to test whether it could offer protection against the type of HIV circulating in South Africa but evidence showed it doesn’t offer any protection since people using it just as those that had enrolled on the drug less component of the placebo acquired HIV in almost same numbers.

Kaleebu says for the tests set to start in Masaka in May unlike the just failed one in South Africa, every participant will be required to take Descovy a new HIV protection drug recommended to be swallowed by HIV negative people who are at risk of infection.

Commenting about the planned study, Alice Kayongo a HIV Activist and advocacy officer at Uganda Cares said after the South African vaccine experiment flop, all hopes are now in the new study as one that will help the world to finally come up with an effective vaccine and the end of HIV by 2030.

Currently, Kaleebu says they have secured all the other necessary approvals and is only pending certification by the National Drug Authority-NDA.

The same study will be happening in South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique but Uganda is set to start before the rest of the countries.

UVRI has received funding worth 10million euros for the study.

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