April 22, 2002
"The Indian vaccine will counter the strain of HIV sub-type C that is prevalent typically in India," said Rao. "Developed countries like the United States are putting their resources into developing their own vaccines to combat the virus sub-type A found commonly in their population. So we have to do everything in our power to win the race against time to come up with our own indigenous anti-AIDS vaccine," Rao said.
India announced in March that it had 3.97 million HIV-positive cases, the largest HIV-positive population after South Africa. Unofficial estimates put the figure closer to five million.
Last year, the health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) signed a pact with the US-based International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) to develop an AIDS vaccine appropriate for use in India. "Dr. Shekhar Chakraborty of the ICMR is working with Therion Biologicals in the United States to develop the construct of the six genes specific to the Indian AIDS virus," said Aman Gupta of the IAVI. Dr. Vijay Mehra from the IAVI added that an "efficacious vaccine could take up to 12 years to develop."
Agence France Presse