Health and Wellness

Johnson & Johnson halts HIV vaccine human testing as failure becomes obvious

Photo: Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) via Flickr

Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson will end human testing for an HIV vaccine that showed early promise. The potential vaccine did not show a high enough level of effectiveness.

The study involved 2600 young women in sub-Saharan Africa who were deemed high risk for acquiring HIV. Researchers will continue a separate late-stage trial involving a variant of the vaccine that is being tested on men and transgender people in Europe and America.

Related: Most straight Americans would be uncomfortable with an HIV+ doctor

“HIV is a unique and complex virus that has long posed unprecedented challenges for vaccine development because of its ability to attack, hijack and evade the human immune system,” Johnson & Johson Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Paul Stoffels said in a statement.

The African study showed only a 25% effectiveness for preventing the transmission of HIV.

Last month, the biotech company Moderna announced it will start human trials for its HIV vaccine. Its HIV vaccine will be the first of its kind to use messenger RNA (mRNA), an approach that Moderna used in its effective COVID-19 vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson is also one of the major producers of a vaccine to prevent coronavirus. It’s vaccines do not use the mRNA technology.

The lessons learned by researchers attempting to produce a vaccine for HIV allowed scientists to quickly develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The coronavirus is not as complex as HIV.

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