After the Merck's disastrous HIV vaccine trial was halted because it made people more susceptible to HIV infection and increased the severity of the course of AIDS in vaccinated people, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) called a conference this week to discuss a new plan for HIV vaccine research.
After an AIDS activist group called for a halt on all vaccine research, the NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, rebutted, "Not only will we will not cut it; wherever possible, we will increase" funding for vaccine research.
AIDS vaccine research is funded by an $476 million extramural portfolio, which will shift away from product development and toward "discovery research." Right now, the share of vaccine research money that goes for "discovery," or basic research, is 47%. The NIAID will spend less on testing candidate vaccines in the lab and in clinical trials and more on the basic biology of the virus to generate ideas.