Thai Phase III HIV Vaccine Trial Extended One Year Due to Volunteer Shortage
The world's largest Phase III HIV vaccine trial in Thailand will be extended for one year because of a volunteer shortage, Thailand's Nation reports (Arthit, Nation, 6/23). The trial is testing Brisbane, Calif.-based biotechnology company VaxGen's experimental vaccine AIDSVAX in conjunction with Aventis Pasteur's ALVAC among 16,000 HIV-negative volunteers from Thailand's Rayong and Chon Buri provinces. In the five-year trial, which began in September 2003, AIDSVAX is being used as a booster for the ALVAC vaccine (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/9). The trial aimed to recruit 16,000 volunteers after six months of screening, but only 5,224 volunteers so far have passed the screening process, according to the Nation. Dr. Supachai Rerks-ngarm, the trial's principal investigator, said that volunteer recruitment will be extended another year, the Nation reports. Supachai said the delay is needed to "maintain maximum standards" to avoid "possible objections" to the study results, according to the Nation (Nation, 6/23). Three thousand people already have received the vaccine, Supachai said, according to Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse, 6/23). Thailand Department of Disease Control Director-General Charal Trinvuthipong said that an "ineffective" public relations campaign failed to increase awareness or interest potential volunteers, according to the Bangkok Post (Apiradee, Bangkok Post, 6/23). "It might be because at first we ran campaigns that were a little too weak, for fear that too many people would apply," Charal added (Xinhua News Agency, 6/23). Researchers are expected to discuss the vaccine trial at the XV International AIDS Conference, which is scheduled for July 11-16 in Bangkok, Thailand (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.