16 May, 2021

AIDS Trial: A Syringe Vacillates

The euphoria over a definitive vaccine for immunity against AIDS is spoiled by rising concern over its proposed trials on humans

Jitender Gupta
AIDS Trial: A Syringe Vacillates
When Bill Gates comes calling later this month, he'll be kickstarting an awareness campaign that will be the prelude to the development and testing of an AIDS vaccine in India. Here's the good news: if all goes well, a vaccine that provides immunity from the HIV virus can be accessed from any public health centre in the country in seven years. But even as the Indian chapter of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) gears up for the clinical trial of the vaccine, scheduled for next year, the contentious issue of testing it on humans has surfaced. Various agencies have expressed concern that sufficient safeguards and compensation packages have not been worked out for those on whom the new vaccine is to be tested.

The preventive vaccine under development is a modified smallpox virus in which genetic material cloned from the HIV-c subtype is introduced. The virus, in this new form, will stimulate the production of HIV-killer cells in the body. The high-profile initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, the US...

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