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The world still needs a safe, effective, affordable and accessible HIV Vaccine despite disruptions by COVID 19,

HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (HVAD) is observed today, the 18th of May to recognize the many volunteers, community members, health professionals, and scientists working to develop a safe, accessible, affordable and effective preventive HIV vaccine key to ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic. HVAD is also an opportunity to educate communities about the importance of preventive HIV vaccine research. HIV research also includes efforts to develop a vaccine for HIV treatment called a therapeutic vaccine, a safe and effective therapeutic HIV vaccine could prevent HIV from advancing to AIDS, replace daily use of HIV medicines, and eliminate HIV from the body. In public health history, it’s important to note the greatest impact in eradicating or controlling infectious diseases has successfully been achieved through vaccination. To help end the epidemic, an HIV vaccine which provides long-lasting protection is necessary to save lives.

While significant progress in reducing HIV and AIDS epidemic has been made through treatment and prevention programs, the rate of new HIV infections still remains unacceptably high. SubSaharan Africa accounts for 70% of the global infection (25.6 million people living with HIV). In addition, the continent has the highest incidence of HIV infections, especially among Adolescents, Girls and young women and young people, thus a preventive HIV vaccine is needed now more than ever before.

Over the last two years, the world has seen unparalleled innovation, investments, and collaboration. The rapid development and rollout of new COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests have transformed the global fight. The transformative advances that are being achieved in the response to COVID-19 could be harnessed to establish strategic and strong collaborations for the HIV and COVID-19 scientific communities. These overlapping epidemics represent an opportunity to extend cross-disciplinary research into the integrated service delivery for HIV and COVID-19 and aim to achieve sustained benefits of prevention and treatment

Lessons learnt from the COVID 19 Vaccines: in the context of introduction and rollout of
an HIV Vaccine

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to accelerated research efforts globally and highlighted the importance of community engagement and leadership in the COVID-19 response, partnerships between science, government, and affected communities are crucial for success. Strong community engagement and empowerment facilitate a two-way communication through which concerns can be addressed. Few countries have sufficient access to these life-saving tools. Manufacturing and regulatory delays curtailed the ability of the lower and lower and middleincome countries to adequately plan and scale up vaccination campaigns as efficiently as highincome countries.

In addition, the health sector has had to deal with many concerns about how vaccines are developed, their potential side effects and how to assess effectiveness. While it is challenging to introduce any new vaccine, ensuring uptake of COVID-19 vaccination presented additional complexities. To be fully effective, vaccination must reach and be accepted by the intended target groups in each country while ensuring strengthening community engagement.

Our African prosperity lies in our human capital therefore critical to invest and save the lives of African people by implementing of learnings of the COVID 19 vaccines while undertaking research to give the world an effective, affordable, accessible and a safe preventive and therapeutic HIV vaccine; the governments, funders and world leaders should consider too;

HIV VACCINES:

Build strong and resilient political will to invest in the delivery of an effective, safe, affordable and accessible HIV Vaccine to end the HIV epidemic
· Efficient and effective delivery of existing and new HIV prevention tools – to curb new infections, avert more deaths and boost the economy of our nations.
· Investing at least 2% of National health budgets in Health research and development (Health R&D)
· All governments and research institutions must ensure vaccine trials are well-conducted and adhere to ethical and meaningful engagement of communities and all stakeholders
· Improve research infrastructure in Africa to promote homegrown solutions

COVID 19 VACCINES:

Vaccines for Africa must be manufactured and procured in Africa for African people to save lives
· Waive the IP protections — including patents, industrial designs, copyrights, and undisclosed information — guarded by the WTO’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, as proposed by South Africa and India.
· Sustain the level of political and financial commitment needed to control COVID-19 and end the pandemic

Correspondences Contact: AfNHi Coordinator, Ms Joyce Nganga at joyce@wacihealth.org


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