The World Health Organization, the U.N.’s global health agency, has come under fire over its plans to stockpile a new HIV vaccine known as Covid-19.
The vaccine is being touted as a potential treatment in the same manner as Ebola, but the organization’s head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says it’s unnecessary. The lead author of a paper that previously discussed the vaccine, supported it during a panel discussion last week, but added that its continued use is unethical.
“Despite the caution on this development, we must pay attention to ethical issues which are important for safeguarding human rights and restricting stigma on young people who have HIV,” Tommaso Calabrese, professor of infectious diseases and epidemiology and director of the Institute for the Study of the Working Mass at the University of Bologna in Italy, said in an interview with Sky News.
The organization, though, has no plans to stop these vaccinations, according to a spokesperson, despite this latest assessment.
“The WHO has developed a strategy to systematically assess the efficacy and safety of the best available candidates for HIV vaccines and invest in relevant development programmes as appropriate,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “The allocation of a targeted plan to study all known HIV vaccine candidates in the framework of the plan discussed is a prudent approach to ensure that the medical costs involved are appropriately allocated.”
In response to criticism from the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the WHO has stated that the vaccine wouldn’t be used for its intended purpose, and is instead stockpiled for the future.
“This type of vaccine could not be used as a treatment to help people living with HIV,” the spokesperson wrote. “The use of this vaccine as a diagnostic and means of control of HIV infection has never been proposed as a priority.”