A group of researchers are in high spirits about an experimental vaccine that could prevent the spread of HIV.
Researchers recruited about 5,400 volunteers between ages 18 and 35 in South Africa for a clinical trial to develop this vaccine. According to the Washington Post, this study is a follow-up to one four years ago in Thailand where an initial version of the vaccine was 31 percent effective in preventing the disease. However, the vaccine didn’t get approval for public use because it wore off over time.
After exploring ways to improve on the vaccine, researchers are now ready to try the vaccine again in South Africa – where an estimated 7 million people were living with HIV in 2015, according to AVERT.
If all goes well, this vaccine could be monumental in the fight against HIV.
“If this study shows efficacy… this would be a tectonic, history event for HIV,” said Nelson L. Michael, director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program that spearheaded the study in Thailand.
A 50 or 60 percent effective rate could lead to negotiations between drugmakers and the South African government, according to the Washington Post.
“Given that right now we have nothing, we’d be happy if this vaccine were even 45 or 50 percent effective,” said Gita Ramjee, director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit at the Medical Research Council in Durban. “Even a modestly effective vaccine like that would have a huge impact here.”