TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Steve Chiotakis: Researchers today are calling it a world first. It’s an experimental vaccine that’s cut the risk of HIV infection by nearly a third. The trial involved a combination of two vaccines —
one American, the other French. Marketplace’s European Correspondent Stephen Beard is with us now. Hi, Stephen.
Stephen Beard: Good morning, Steve.
Chiotakis: So tell us more about the study.
Beard: Sponsored by the U.S. Army, it cost $100 million to carry out. It involved 16,000 volunteers in Thailand. Half took a placebo. The other half received a sort of vaccine coctail, a combination of two vaccines which have separately proved inneffective. Together, they apparently cut the rate of HIV infection by a third. Now not of itself sufficient to make a proper vaccine, but this is the first time in 25 years of research that anything has proved remotely effective as a vaccine against AIDS, so it is being hailed as a breakthrough.
Chiotakis: Yeah, and I would imagine, Stephen, there are many questions at this point as to whether it can be produced commercially, right?
Beard: Oh, very much so. I spoke to a professor of immunology in London this morning, who said that scientifically this is exciting, but at this stage, it may only be a vaccine that works against HIV strains prevalent in Thailand, which might limit its relavance elsewhere. And she said we really don’t know enough about how this vaccine might work to know whether it is going to lead onto a global vaccine. We’ll have to wait til next month for a major meeting in Paris, when the full results of this trial will be made public.
Chiotakis: So much to explore going forward. Our Marketplace European Correspondent Stephen Beard joining us this morning. Stephen, thanks.
Beard: OK, Steve.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.