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New York Times

HIV Vaccine Trial Fails in Africa

Data showed the experimental vaccine offered little protection against the deadly virus

An advanced HIV vaccine trial in Africa has been shut down after data showed the shots offered only limited protection against the virus, researchers announced on Tuesday.

The vaccine, made by Johnson & Johnson, is one in a long line found to offer little defense against HIV, one of medicine’s most intractable adversaries. One candidate vaccine even increased the risk of infection.

Another trial was halted last year in South Africa after a different experimental vaccine failed to offer sufficient protection. Some 1.5 million people were infected with HIV worldwide in 2020, and 38 million are living with the infection.

This latest failure underscores, yet again, how difficult it is to find vaccine-induced protection against the retrovirus, a pathogen with such incredible genetic diversity that it is able continually escape the immune system.

Interestingly, the vaccine employed the same technology used in J&J's successful COVID-19 vaccine, an adenovirus that acted as a vector to ferry in the protein fragments designed to induce an immune response. In the case of HIV, those fragments derived from four different subtypes of HIV.

You can read more about this trial in the New York Times.