After its first major trial on Tuesday, J&J’s HIV vaccine proves far from the results its manufacturer expected. Said failure puts almost four decades of research and development to bust.
Sharing the same technology with its Ebola and COVID-19 vaccines, the J&J HIV shot is among the late-stage trial vaccine constructs designed to end the epidemic first discovered in 1983.
While the outcome of its first endeavor wasn’t that favorable, J&J is not yet done with its attempts to create an effective HIV vaccine. It is currently conducting a Phase II study known as Imbokodo and a Phase III study called Mosaico.
The Imbokodo trial involved volunteers receiving either a placebo or four shots of adenovirus 26, a common cold virus engineered to carry a “mosaic” of HIV proteins.
These volunteers were also given two doses of gp140, a type of HIV protein, and an adjuvant—a substance that enhances the immune system’s response to the presence of an antigen—to sufficiently trigger an immunologic stimulation.
About two years later, the data gathered shows that 63 of the 1,109 volunteers on placebo were infected with HIV. On the other hand, 51 of the 1,079 participants on the vaccine contracted the virus. Thus, although the study’s researchers observed a 25.2% efficacy rate, the results are still not that encouraging.
Perhaps the study that showed the most promise is the one conducted in 2009 that involved a trial known as RV144, a combination of multiple different vaccine constructs. While RX144 was ultimately scrapped, it did yield a 30% rate in terms of HIV risk reduction.
The figures achieved in the RX144 trial still haven’t been replicated up to now.
Besides J&J, other pharmaceutical companies like Sanofi and GSK and Vir Biotechnology and Moderna are currently developing HIV vaccines. Moreover, Sanofi and GSK’s Phase III trials have also come up flat last year.
In a statement released recently, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director, Anthony Fauci said that creating the ideal HIV vaccine is proving to be a “formidable scientific challenge.” However, he also added that efforts to find a vaccine that will be protective against HIV should be continued, applying the knowledge learned from previous trials, such as Imbokodo.
J&J Critics are now questioning the legitimacy of the company’s COVID-19 Vaccine, which was rushed to the market in an effort to combat a worldwide pandemic.
“They were trying to create an HIV vaccine for over 40 years with no notable success, yet their experimental COVID-19 Vaccine hit the market in less than a year time.” One of our sources pointed out.