Two South African developed AIDS vaccines have begun clinical testing in Cape Town and Gauteng, despite the government reportedly stopping its funding of one of the research projects.
“We have been eagerly awaiting the go ahead to begin recruiting on to this landmark study. Both the Cape Town and Johannesburg sites have been preparing communities, potential recruits and undergoing site preparation for some time. It is important that we recruit the most suitable people for the study and sites have been preparing diligently for many months now,” says Prof. Linda-Gail Bekker, Principal Investigator for the Cape Town trial site and Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.
“If data from this clinical trial is promising, we intend to move into the next phase of trials which will involve about 200 participants, and will look at further safety and immunogenicity data,” says Prof. Glenda Gray, lead Clinical Investigator of the South African clinical trials team.
However, Professor Anna-Lise Williamson told The Associated Press that South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology has decided to stop funding her research and the utility Eskom’s contract for funding ended last year and was not renewed.
“For vaccine development presently, the South African Aids Vaccine initiative has no money,” she said at a trial to test the vaccine’s safety that was attended by American health officials who gave technical help and manufactured the vaccine at the US National Institutes of Health. She said the trial would now continue with US funding.
“International organisations told Eskom that this was a terrible waste of money, that putting money into South African scientists was like backing the cart horse when they need to be backing the race horse,” she reportedly said.