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Clinical studies involving thousands of volunteers for an HIV vaccine are expected to be carried out after 2021.
China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that a vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reached the second phase of clinical trials in humans for the first time and will be evaluated in 160 volunteers.
The 'long-lasting' drug called DNA-rTV replicates the HIV DNA in order to stimulate an effective immunization against the virus itself.
"This is the first time that an HIV immunization study gets permission to perform second-phase clinical trials in humans," Shao Yiming, the project's lead researcher, said and added that he hopes the new drug will have a stronger and more lasting effect.
According to the Chinese scientist, the vaccine, which is under development, is similar to that used to prevent smallpox, as it contains DNA segments of the human immunodeficiency virus instead of the entire chain of genetic material.
"With a significant reduction in virulence, inoculation will not cause infection in healthy recipients," the researcher assured and explained that the vaccine is designed to attack strains of HIV that are more common in China.
According to statistics released by United Nations Global HIV Aids Control Program, a total of 36.9 million people in the world are affected by the deadly virus, of which 25 per cent remain undiagnosed.#AidsFreeSindhpic.twitter.com/1JU3VfH4nt
"By 2021 we hope to have completed the clinical trials that will be carried out in one hospital in Beijing and in another in Hangzhou."
If satisfactory results are obtained, the study's third phase, which would begin in about two years, will involve thousands of people who will voluntarily collaborate to test the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Although the HIV infection prevalence is lower in China compared to other countries, the National Health Commission (NHC) warned about the serious prevention and control challenges the Asian country faces due to the large number of new cases reported.
The NHC holds that about 1.25 million people are currently HIV positive in China and around 80,000 new infections occur every year.
In 2018, some 770,000 people died of AIDS worldwide and almost 38 million people were living with the HIV virus, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS).