The vaccine stems from a landmark trial in Thailand in 2009 that was the first to show any protection against HIV, with 31% protection against the virus. This was enough to get experts in the field excited after years with no success.
“The obvious question is: Can we now replicate those results and can we improve upon them with greater breadth, depth and potency?” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, whose organization sponsors the study.
The vaccine was improved for use in the higher-risk populations of sub-Saharan Africa, where a different subtype of the virus also exists.
“We’ve inserted specific inserts from viruses that have come off the subcontinent,” said Gail Bekker. A new component was also introduced to stimulate stronger immunity, known as an adjuvant.Four criteria were set as measures of its likely effectiveness, including the level of T-cell and antibody response to fight the virus if it were to infect.
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