Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Merck AIDS Vaccine Study Signifies Progress, Post Says
AIDS vaccine research has "lagged," partly because of the "scientific difficulty of the puzzle ... but mostly because of economic factors that steer companies' efforts and investments toward drugs," a Washington Post editorial states. However, the "promising early results"
Merck announced last week of its AIDS vaccine trials on monkeys are significant because they represnt a "turnaround on both counts," the Post states, citing the study's "scientific approach" and the signal it sends "of serious involvement by a major drug company." Unlike other vaccines, Merck's focuses not on preventing initial HIV infection but on slowing post-infection disease progress and limiting transmission. The Post says that "even such partial efficacy...can dramatically curtail epidemics," noting that the first polio vaccine was only 60% effective at the start yet "reined in" that disease within five years. Although Merck's vaccine trial results "should speed [up] ... the race for a vaccine," even if a vaccine proves successful within the next three to five years, "it will still face the stiff challenges of [reaching] the destitute and hard-to-reach populations that need it most," the Post states, concluding, "A vaccine, even if it ends up emerging from a big drug company, will likewise need significant public support to find its mark" (Washington Post, 4/5).
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