Doubts have been raised about the reliability of a trial suggesting success for a vaccine against HIV.

In the large-scale trial in Thailand, a combination of vaccines seemed to give volunteers a protective effect of 31%.

The US military and Thai government, who co-sponsored the trial, said the effect was not caused by random chance but was statistically significant.

But new data, being published at a conference in Paris on Tuesday, is believed to question that assertion.

It was the world’s largest clinical trial of a HIV vaccine – involving 16,000 people in Thailand aged between 18 and 30.

Among the 8,000 volunteers who had been given the combination of vaccines, 51 had gone on to become infected with the virus.

Of the group given a placebo, there were 74 positive cases.

The numbers were small, but according to Seth Berkley of the International Aids Vaccine Initiative, the results were “exciting news and a significant scientific achievement”.

She said: “Now we have got a vaccine candidate that appears to show a protective effect in humans, albeit partially.”


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