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How HIV Vaccine R&D is enabling the rapid COVID-19 vaccine response

What HIV vaccine R&D did for COVID-19

A Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise sponsored satellite at the IAS – Research for Prevention conference (R4P Virtual). Wednesday 3 February 2021.

Much about the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, including the global COVID-19 vaccine response. COVID-19 vaccine development has taken place at a speed that was previously thought to be impossible. We have seen multiple vaccines licensed for emergency use with some being rolled out within a year of sequencing the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The breadth and scope of the vaccine research has also been remarkable, with more than 50 vaccine candidates in clinical trials to date. About half of these are based on next-generation platforms, such as viral vector and nucleic acid technologies. And because of this effort, we now have RNA vaccines approved for emergency use for the first time.

As much as USD 90 billion has been invested into COVID-19 vaccine R&D. Countries and coalitions have funded advance purchases of as many as 7.2 billion doses from a dozen or so developers.

Of course, much of this record-breaking success can be attributed to the sense of need and urgency triggered by this major pandemic that has affected all communities in every corner of the world. But even in this context, COVID-19 vaccine development would have been significantly slower without the significant and unique contribution of the HIV vaccine research field.

The Enterprise set out to identify and characterize the ways in which HIV vaccine R&D has contributed to the early success of the COVID-19 vaccine response, the extent to which it has contributed across various dimensions, and the uniqueness of its contributions relative to other fields.

At the HIVR4P 2021 // Virtual, the 4th HIV Research for Prevention Conference, Roger Tatoud presents the finding of this investigation. Information gathering included interviews with over a dozen leaders from the HIV vaccine field (many of whom are contributing to the COVID-19 vaccine effort), as well as secondary research and analyses. The interviews and other research were led by our colleagues at Shift Health, a strategy firm with a long history of supporting the HIV vaccine field.

This work is still in progress and today’s presentation will describe some of our findings to date as we continue to reflect on this topic.