Global Fund Director Says AIDSVAX Results ‘No Reason for Pessimism’
Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Thursday said that the results of the VaxGen AIDSVAX trials were "no reason for pessimism," the Times of India reports (Times of India, 3/8). VaxGen late last month announced that AIDSVAX reduced the rate of new HIV infections by only 3.8% among people who received the vaccine, compared with clinical trial participants who received a placebo injection, but said that it was effective among African Americans, Asians and other non-white, non-Hispanic volunteers. The study consisted of 5,108 gay or bisexual men and 309 women who were HIV-negative when they began the trial but were at high risk for HIV infection because they had sex partners who injected drugs or had sex with men. About twice as many people were randomly assigned to receive injections of the vaccine than were assigned to the placebo group (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/27). In a subgroup of 498 non-white, non-Hispanic volunteers the vaccine appeared to provide protection in the range of 30% to 84%. According to the company, the analysis had less than a 1% chance of being random chance, making it statistically significant (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28). Speaking during a three-day visit to India, Feachem said that a "large part of the fund will be diverted towards" the purchase of an AIDS vaccine, should an effective one be found, according to the Times. Feachem also said that the results of a Thailand trial of the vaccine have not yet been released and that, regardless of the results, "Subsequent efforts benefit from failure." He added, "No one gets it right the first time" (Times of India, 3/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.