Will COVID-19 Vaccine lead to HIV?

Featured Health Opinion

By Haider Abbas

The world since the onset of 2020 has been embroiled in the COVID-19 pandemic , which skeptics have called as a ‘plandemic’ and both superpowers of the world  US and China have sparred  over each other to have been responsible for ‘spreading-it’ . However, what the world has seen is millions dying out-of-it and a shutdown which has led to events unprecedented in human history i.e. the entire human activity of business, travel, trains, airways or roadways had to be put to a grinding halt.  Now the world is bracing for its coming-wave and jittery as to what would happen next? Amidst the talks of a ‘new-world-order’ coming in post-COVID-19 period and also towards an opening for hope,  as its vaccine is also slated to hit all the very soon. Perhaps, the hapless world is eagerly for the panacea but which too may turn out to be a doomsday!

Yes, as per the report published in Forbes on October 20, 2020 , which cites a report published in one of the world’s most trusted medical journal The Lancet, says that ‘some of the Covid-19 vaccines currently in development could increase the risk of acquiring HIV, warned a group of researchers in the The Lancet medical journal, potentially leading to an increase in infections as vaccines are rolled out to vulnerable populations around the world.  The researchers have warned of a “cautionary tale” from efforts to create an HIV vaccine over a decade ago, where a promising vaccine candidate actually increased the risk of some men catching the virus. The vaccine made use of a modified virus — called adenovirus 5 (Ad5) — as a vector to transport some of HIV’s genetic material into the body. Exactly how the vaccine increased the risks of HIV transmission is unknown, but a conference convened by the National Institutes of Health recommended against further use of Ad5 as a vector in HIV vaccines’.

‘Ad5 is used as a vector in some Covid-19 vaccines —  Science identifies  four such candidates that are currently undergoing clinical trials in various countries around the world, including the U.S., with two in large scale phase 3 trials ongoing in Russia and Pakistan.  The researchers stressed the need to understand the role Ad5 might play in increasing the risks of HIV in vulnerable populations before developing and deploying vaccines using the vector, adding that informed consent documents should reflect the “considerable literature” on the risk of HIV acquisition with Ad5 vectors.  Lots of vaccines make use of modified viruses to transport material into the human body. Many make use of a modified adenovirus to do this, a virus which is usually harmless except the ability to cause the common cold. Some of the leading candidates for a Covid-19 vaccine, including those from Johnson & Johnson and  AstraZeneca, use adenoviruses as vectors. There is no evidence that those vectors increase the risk of HIV infection’.

In the same report, ‘the authors said they went public because Ad5 vaccines for Covid-19 might soon be tested in populations with high HIV prevalence. Lawrence Corey, one of the authors who now co-leads the Covid-19 prevention network in the U.S. that is testing vaccines on behalf of the NIH,  told Science that if he were in a sub-Saharan African country, where there’s a high prevalence of HIV, “I don’t see why I would pick an Ad5 vector (vaccine) when there are many other alternative choices.”’

There are signs that Russia is likely to refuse to the use of such a vaccine which might potentially endanger the whole world again, but for country like India which has around 1.25 people, and marred by the onslaught of shutdown which has nosedived it economy by 23.9 % and where illiteracy is rampant and general awareness extremely low,  there is yet another disaster waiting to explode as the government is yet to make a standpoint to it, all the while as prime-time shows are being run for the reception of vaccine! Whereas, this report from Lancet Journal should have infact been the utmost object of discussion.

In what may the purported future, which is leading towards the ‘new-world-order’, as nations are likely to make the administration of this vaccine as mandatory for travelling purposes, buying properties etc. The world is certainly moving ahead towards an unseen human catastrophe where the humanity would be subjected to the proverbial ‘from the fire to the frying pan’.  Is the world to be again shutdown while this time millions will starve to under and death? But US president Donald Trump had rubbished the entire Corona-Virus theory and had thrown-off his own mask too, Joseph Biden is likely to adapt to it.

The world is therefore again to slide into an unending uncertainty. Notwithstanding, the Swedish model where no shutdown had taken place and the country kept running despite the COVID-19 outbreak.   Let’s see what 2021 has in store?

The writer is a former State Information Commissioner, India. He is a media analyst and writes on International politics.  

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