Arthur Greene

Scientists unravelling the mystery of Covid-19 might have unlocked the key to another pandemic.

A new HIV vaccine, which was developed using technology developed for Covid-19 vaccines, has passed a significant early hurdle after showing a 97% success rate in the first human trial.

The same breakthrough approach used for some of the best Covid-19 vaccines also shows promise for protection against HIV.

News of this trial represents the latest medical development to emerge out of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last month, we reported that progress had been made in producing an effective malaria vaccine using the same approach – known as mRNA. This is the technology used by Moderna and Pfizer to develop their Covid vaccines.  

The Scripps Research institute and IAVI have developed a vaccine with this technology which helps patients develop antibodies against the virus.

The results showed that 97% of the participants who did not receive a placebo had the desired type of antibody in their bloodstream.

Dr Julie McElrath, senior vice president and director of Fred Hutch’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division has called it a “landmark study” in the HIV vaccine field.

While the vaccine is still a long way from being put into an injection and administered to the public, the news represents a giant leap forward for vaccine science.

The method used to produce this vaccine can be used to combat other viruses besides HIV. 

The same approach can also be used to try and create new vaccines for other diseases as well as malaria, such as flu, dengue, Zika, and hepatitis C.

“This clinical trial has shown that we can drive immune responses in predictable ways to make new and better vaccines and not just for HIV,” said Dr Dennis Burton of Scripps Research. 

“The breakthrough brings about a new day in vaccinology.”

Picture source: @NLM_HIV