The first phase of human trials on an experimental AIDS vaccine will begin by the end of 2003. The states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and the entire northeast region—which have a high hiv incidence—will provide field sites for the human trial. Researchers from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Therion Biologics, a US biotech firm, are working in collaboration to create preventive AIDS vaccines designed specifically for India. The collaboration with Therion is part of the MoU signed by the ministry of health and family welfare, ICMR and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)—the global organisation championing the speedy development of AIDS vaccines.
However, to what extent India will contribute in terms of resources—a clause in the agreement of collaboration—is something the health ministry hasn’t clearly spelt out. So, when IAVI president Seth Berkley told the press in Delhi that the cost of producing the vaccine could be between $300 million and half-a-billion dollars, speculation ran wild.