AIDS Vaccine Shows Success
It could be a huge victory in the fight against HIV and AIDS: The New York Times reports that an AIDS vaccine tested on more than 16,000 volunteers in Thailand has protected a significant minority against infection. It’s the first time that any vaccine against the disease has even partly succeeded in a clinical trial.
The thing is, scientists don’t really know why it works. The vaccine is a combination of two genetically engineered vaccines, neither of which had worked before in humans. Although it protected too few people to be a straight-up success, it’s still significant. “I don’t want to use a word like ‘breakthrough,’ but I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is a very important result,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“For more than 20 years now, vaccine trials have essentially been failures,” he continued. “Now it’s like we were groping down an unlit path, and a door has been opened. We can start asking some very important questions.”
The vaccine, known as RV 144, was about 31.2 percent effective. Dr. Fauci said that a vaccine would probably have to be 70 or 80 percent effective to be licensed, but he added, “If you have a product that’s even a little bit protective, you want to look at the blood samples and figure out what particular response was effective and direct research from there.”