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Johnson and Johnson HIV Vaccine Trial Fails

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Aug. 31, 2021 -- Johnson & Johnson has ended a clinical trial of an experimental HIV vaccine after it failed to provide sufficient protection for young women in sub-Saharan Africa who were at high risk of acquiring HIV.

The study, called Imbokodo, had 2,600 women participants across five countries -- Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, the company said in a news release. The vaccine did not cause harm and was well tolerated, but only provided a 25.2% efficacy. 

“Based on these results, the Imbokodo study will not continue,” the news release said.

Johnson & Johnson said the search for an HIV vaccine will not stop.

"While we are disappointed that the vaccine candidate did not provide a sufficient level of protection against HIV infection in the Imbokodo trial, the study will give us important scientific findings in the ongoing pursuit for a vaccine to prevent HIV,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., vice chairman of the Executive Committee and chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson.

"Although this is certainly not the study outcome for which we had hoped, we must apply the knowledge learned from the Imbokodo trial," Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said in a news release on the National Institutes of Health website.

The experimental vaccine in the Imbokodo trial uses the same adenovirus platform used in J&J's COVID-19 shot.  

Study participants are being informed of the findings and will have follow-up visits with the study investigators, the company said.

Reuters reported that the vaccine trial was eagerly watched because HIV, which causes AIDS, which resulted in 680,000 deaths last year. While some medications can put the disease in remission, an effective vaccine is necessary for eradication.

Women and girls accounted for 63% of all new HIV infections in 2020 in the five sub-Saharan nations studied. 

WebMD Health News Brief


Johnson & Johnson. “Johnson & Johnson and Global Partners Announce Results from Phase 2b Imbokodo HIV Vaccine Clinical Trial in Young Women in Sub-Saharan Africa”


NIH. “HIV Vaccine Candidate Does Not Sufficiently Protect Women Against HIV Infection”


Reuters: “J&J's HIV vaccine fails trial in latest blow to the field”

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