Health Expert Demystifies Imbokodo HIV Vaccine Trial

A local health expert has defended the recently discontinued Imbokodo HIV vaccine study saying it was not a complete failure as the processes involved were crucial in ensuring the world develop a better vaccine in future.

In an interview with 263Chat, Principal Investigator for the research in question, Dr Portia Hunidzarira said the Imbokodo HIV vaccine caused no harm to the participants although it was unable to provide sufficient protection.

“When we look at these results, to us its not a failure because when it comes to science, we are always learning. Though the vaccine did not give us enough protection, we are going to learn from this study on what worked and what did not work so that we can improve future trials,” she said.

Dr Hunidzarira also highlighted that the reason why it is taking long to come up with a vaccine is attributed to the rapid rate HIV mutations.

“It has taken 40 years or more to come up with vaccine because HIV can come up with more than a thousand variants in one cycle making it difficult for scientists to come up with a vaccine. Also, you cannot compare trials in different countries because there are different variants,” she added.

Dr Hunidzarira said learning from the Imbokodo HIV vaccine study will help the world to eventually succeed in stopping new infections.

Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson recently announced the discontinuation of a Phase IIb HIV vaccine clinical trial known as Imbokodo (HVTN 705/HPX2008), sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

Data showed the investigation HIV vaccine regimen did not prevent HIV infection in a population of young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

The vaccine regimen tested in Imbokodo was based on “mosaic” immunogens — vaccine components designed to induce non-neutralizing immune responses against a wide variety of global HIV strains.

The vaccine efficacy in this trial was estimated at 25%, a result that is not significantly greater than 0% vaccine efficacy (95% confidence interval -10.5% to 49.3%).

In Zimbabwe, 331 women participated in the trial of Imbokodo vaccine.

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