HTB: no. 2 now online – plus HIV and COVID-19 (24 February 2021)

This is a difficult issue of HTB for having to lead with articles in memory of three friends: Elias Phiri, Dr Joseph Sonnabend and Timothy Ray Brown. Their lives made ours richer and they will be missed.

And as with every issue over the last year, we aimed to minimise coverage of COVID-19 – but the pace of important research means that this is still very much a double issue with HIV news.

HIV prevention news from the R4P 2021 virtual meeting includes the complicated story of the AMP studies using a monoclonal antibody (mAb) for HIV prevention but also another mAb to prevent vertical transmission and review other prevention technologies for use by women.

Other news includes a new 4-in-1 ART for children, and a new study for MDR HIV and a community education programme in Soweto that i-Base partnered.

And for COVID-19, this issue is launched just as all HIV positive people in the UK become eligible for a vaccine and that this can be given at HIV centres.

We cover variants, vaccines and treatment, including the greater pathogenesis of B. and the serious under-reporting of COVID-19 in Zambia.

The seven other articles on vaccines include the Novavax and Janssen vaccines that both enrolled HIV positive participants, and new results from both the Sputnik and Oxford vaccines. We celebrate the speed of research in this field and also raise issues of public funding and pricing.

Positive results from treatment trials include the bNAb bamlanivimab as prophylaxis and the IL-6 antagonist tocilizumab in late infection.

More controversially, last month the RECOVERY study reported no benefit from convalescent plasma which might be linked to using low-titre plasma too late in infection, as both the FDA and a recent NEJM paper (Libster et al) remain more optimistic.