First AIDS Vaccine Trials in Kenya Delayed
Kenyan authorities were prepared this week to begin the first human clinical trials for an AIDS vaccine in Kenya, but the tests have been delayed for up to two months as they await government approval, the Associated Press reports. Kenyan Health Minister Sam Ongeri, who was expected to approve the trials yesterday, said, "I was just briefed yesterday. You do not expect a minister of government to give a green light overnight." Ongeri, speaking at the opening of the laboratory in Nairobi where the trials are to occur, added, "Any human experiment must have the approval of government structures. There are processes and very soon we will be able to clear [the trials]" (England, Associated Press, 12/20). The vaccine was developed by Kenyan and British Scientists from the University of Nairobi and Britain's Medical Research Council, with support from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. The vaccine is designed specifically for HIV subtype A, the most common strain in Kenya and other countries in Africa, and is based on studies of sex workers in Nairobi who have a natural resistance to HIV infection (Agence France-Presse, 12/19). "I'm not surprised there are still delays," Seth Berkeley, president of IAVI, said, adding, "The critical issue is to stand back and make sure everybody realizes [AIDS] is a global emergency and we need to move forward as fast as possible, and if there are concerns they get brought up and resolved as rapidly as possible." The trials are expected to begin in January or February (Associated Press, 12/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.