Immediate ‘Mediocre’ AIDS Vaccine Better than 100% Effective Vaccine Down the Road, Book Says
On the heels of a $100 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support AIDS vaccine efforts, Jon Cohen, author of "Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine," said, "A mediocre vaccine today would do the world more good than a 100% vaccine 10 years from now." The Washington Post reports that according to Cohen's book, the 15-year search for a vaccine has been "marred by clashing egos, institutional infighting and the misadventures of rogue scientists who have little to show for their efforts." About 30 potential vaccines have been tested on more than 6,000 uninfected volunteers, but VaxGen is the only company with a vaccine in the third and final stage of clinical testing. Cohen argues that rather than focusing research on trying to "thoroughly understand" HIV, the objective should be to find a vaccine that "works even if the reasons it works are unclear -- and even if it isn't 100% effective." According to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, only 2% of the global $20 billion spent each year on AIDS funds vaccine research and development (Washington Post, 2/20). WebMD will host a chat with Cohen on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. EST. Cohen, who also reports on science and medicine for Science, will share his specific recommendations for fast-tracking AIDS vaccine research (WebMD.com, 2/20). Individuals wishing to participate in the chat can visit http://my.wemd.com/splash/article/1705.53236, and may post a question in advance by visiting the site. Registration to participate in the chat is free and required. The chat page will become available one hour before the session begins.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.