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Searching for Herpes Vaccines Continues

October 22, 2022 • 2:30 pm CDT
by Hong Manh
(Precision Vaccinations News)

Despite decades of global efforts to control sexually transmitted infections (STI), developing effective vaccines remains elusive.

More than 500 million people aged 15 to 49 years are estimated to have a genital herpes infection, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

As of October 22, 2022, the U.S. FDA has not approved either a preventive or therapeutic genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) vaccine.

However, several HSV vaccine candidates have entered clinical trials in recent years.

Even the mRNA-1608 vaccine candidate from Moderna Inc. aims to induce a strong antibody response with neutralizing and effector functionality combined with cell-mediated immunity.

Moderna stated it expects an HSV-2 vaccine could also provide cross-protection against HSV-1.

WHO recently published preferred product characteristics to help ensure potential preventive and/or therapeutic genital herpes vaccines best meet public health needs.

This document notes that while therapeutic vaccines may be easier to develop and would have some essential benefits, a preventive vaccine would be ideal because:

  • Only a relatively small proportion of people with genital herpes have symptoms and seek care,
  • Even if their symptoms are suppressed, people with genital herpes infection remain at increased risk for HIV acquisition,
  • A preventive vaccine would be more straightforward to administer within existing immunization infrastructure, for example, by delivery to all adolescent girls and boys.

The WHO document also identifies preferred characteristics for each type of vaccine, including duration of protection, schedule, and safety requirements.

Other herpes vaccine candidate news is posted at

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