Six months? A year? Longer? Never? How long until there’s a vaccine against COVID-19? How is COVID vaccine research moving so quickly? How do HIV vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine research relate and inform each other? How do we ensure COVID research happens quickly and ethically?
As we approach HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD) on May 18, these questions are driving how we think about the ever-evolving global advocacy agenda.
On Wednesday, May 13, we conducted a webinar with Jon Cohen, one of the leading journalists covering both HIV and COVID. Jon is a Science staff writer, award-winning journalist and author of Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine. Jon discussed the rapidly growing pipeline of COVID vaccine candidates and shared insights on how the HIV vaccine field has laid the groundwork for this — along with how COVID research can contribute to the ongoing search for an HIV vaccine.
We also discussed some of the thornier issues emerging in COVID research: the WHO issued a report stating that well-designed “human challenge” studies could accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development. The report articulates important criteria for assessing a challenge study, but they left out the most important one: Until there is an approved treatment, a challenge trial with a potentially fatal and as-yet untreatable pathogen is unacceptable. See AVAC and TAG’s statement on the report here.