Zimbabwe se­lected for ground­break­ing HIV vac­cine re­search

Re­serve Bank to roll out na­tion­wide bond notes aware­ness cam­paigns

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - From Than­deka Moyo in Chicago, USA Elita chik­wati

ZIMBABWE will par­tic­i­pate in the first ever HIV vac­cine re­search tri­als con­ducted in four con­ti­nents to es­tab­lish if an anti-body me­di­ated pre­ven­tion (AMP) can help to end HIV.

HIV and Aids con­tinue to kill thou­sands of peo­ple an­nu­ally in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and the dis­ease has no known cure.

A vac­cine may help to erad­i­cate the pan­demic glob­ally through pre­vent­ing new in­fec­tions.

The study, re­searchers say, will test whether giv­ing peo­ple an in­ves­ti­ga­tional anti-HIV an­ti­body THE in­tro­duc­tion of bond notes early next month is on course with mas­sive aware­ness cam­paigns ex­pected to start on Oc­to­ber 31 coun­try­wide, Re­serve Bank of Zimbabwe Gover­nor, Dr John Man­gudya, said yes­ter­day.

He said the bank was in the process of im­port­ing more US dol­lars, but warned the peo­ple not to abuse the money.

The bond notes with a value of $75 mil­lion, will be in­tro­duced in $2 and $5 de­nom­i­na­tions.

Dr Man­gudya said there was no way the Gov­ern­ment would be­come care­less to the ex­tent of print­ing a lot of money as it was aware of the con­se­quences.

The print­ing will be con­trolled to avoid in­fla­tion, he said, adding the big­ger notes would be in US dol­lars.

Speak­ing at a lun­cheon or­gan­ised by the St Luke Angli­can Church in Green­dale, Dr Man­gudya said the bond notes could not be in­tro­duced without car­ry­ing out aware­ness cam­paigns as peo­ple would be duped.

He dis­missed spec­u­la­tion that the cash short­age was a re­sult of the im­pend­ing in­tro­duc­tion of the bond notes.

Dr Man­gudya said the short­age was a re­sult of more im­ports and low ex­ports.

He also dis­missed sug­ges­tions by some sec­tions of the busi­ness com­mu­nity that Zimbabwe should adopt called VRC01 as an in­tra­venous in­fu­sion every 8 weeks is safe, tol­er­a­ble and ef­fec­tive at pre­vent­ing HIV in­fec­tion. Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa re­mains the re­gion most af­fected by HIV with 25 mil­lion adults and chil­dren liv­ing with the dis­ease. Zimbabwe whose HIV preva­lence rate is 14 per­cent, is the fifth high­est in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. In an in­ter­view at the world HIV Re­search for Pre­ven­tion Con­fer­ence in Chicago United States of Amer­ica, Dr Nyaradzo Mm­godi, the Univer­sity of Zimbabwe and Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cisco (UZ-UCSF) project man­ager said South Africa, Tan­za­nia, Mozam­bique, Malawi, the South African rand as cur­rency of ref­er­ence.

He said Zimbabwe re­quires its own cur­rency be­fore join­ing the Rand Mone­tary Union.

Dr Man­gudya how­ever said it was still im­pos­si­ble to bring back the Zim­dol­lar be­cause the con­di­tions were not con­ducive for such ac­tion.

“The ma­jor mis­take was done in 2009 when the Gov­ern­ment lib­er­alised the econ­omy, which led to the use of the US dol­lar as a trad­ing cur­rency in­stead of a re­serve cur­rency. This re­sulted in some in­vestors com­ing to Zimbabwe only for the US dol­lar and these took the money out. Botswana and Kenya would also par­tic­i­pate in the re­search dubbed the HVTN702.

“We’ve never seen cases of po­lio in Zimbabwe be­cause we’ve an ef­fec­tive vac­cine against it and that’s the aim with HIV. The most ef­fec­tive pub­lic health in­ter­ven­tion to deal with in­fec­tious dis­eases is vac­cines and we would want to bring an end to HIV,” said Dr Mm­godi.

“We’re ex­cited about the study which is go­ing to take us about 15 to 20 years. In the mean­time, we are pro­mot­ing Prep (Pre-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis), vagi­nal ring and other in­ter­ven­tions to pre­vent and treat HIV.

“It’s a big study be­ing con­ducted on four con­ti­nents, North and South Amer­ica, Europe and Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and will in­cor­po­rate 4 200 women across the “Since 2009, we gave an im­pres­sion that Zimbabwe man­u­fac­tured US dol­lars. The move taken in 2009 was danger­ous. It was both eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal and maybe we spent more time on the po­lit­i­cal side,” he said. Dr Man­gudya said it was not sur­pris­ing that some peo­ple who were en­joy­ing the eco­nomic sta­tus quo were against the in­tro­duc­tion of bond notes just as the de­trac­tors in the Bi­ble dis­cour­aged Ne­hemiah from re­build­ing. “Let us rise up and build Zimba bwe to­gether. We should not dwell in the past. We are fac­ing con­ti­nents and 1 500 women in the seven African coun­tries,” she said.

Dr Mm­godi said the anti-body con­cept was taken from a group of peo­ple known as elite con­trollers who can manage and sup­press HIV without treat­ment.

“One of these elite con­trollers was found to have VRCO1 like an­ti­bod­ies which help them con­trol HIV without treat­ment. This an­ti­body was taken and a sim­i­lar anti-body was man­u­fac­tured in the lab by the Vac­cines Re­search Cen­tre. Our read­ers must un­der­stand that this anti-body which we will be test­ing didn’t come from a HIV in­fected. this VROC1 was man­u­fac­tured to re­sem­ble the anti-body which was found in the elite con­troller,” she said.” chal­lenges be­cause Zimbabwe is im­port­ing more than she is ex­port­ing. We’ve ex­ported cash to other coun­tries.

“Let’s work hard. We are to blame. We in­tro­duced the SI64 to re­duce im­ports and pro­mote lo­cal pro­duc­tion and peo­ple demon­strated against the mea­sure. We’re in a bet­ter sit­u­a­tion now than in May. Be­cause of the SI64, pro­duc­tion is im­prov­ing and more jobs are be­ing cre­ated.

“Let’s ex­ploit all the mar­kets avail­able, Zimbabwe has a wide mar­ket in China, we can ex­port our beef and indige­nous poul­try to China. We’ve 13 mil­lion tonnes of gold un­der­ground but in 36 years we’ve mined 585 000 tonnes. If Botswana could do with di­a­monds only why can’t Zimbabwe use gold,” he said.

The RBZ boss said the Gov­ern­ment had pro­vided a $20 mil­lion fa­cil­ity to pro­mote small scale ar­ti­san min­ing to boost gold pro­duc­tion so that more gold is de­liv­ered to the cen­tral bank.

“Let’s con­tinue to do what’s good for the econ­omy. We want to de­velop a strong econ­omy. Malaysia was worse off than Zimbabwe in 1995 but now has US$100 bil­lion in re­serves,” he said.

Dr Man­gudya said the Zimbabwe’s eco­nomic chal­lenges were wors­ened by the drought, which saw the coun­try in­creas­ing im­ports through buy­ing food from other coun­tries.

“We’ve fis­cal deficit or lack of fis­cal space. Our ex­pen­di­tures are more than rev­enue. We use the bulk of our money to pay wages,” he said.

The gover­nor said un­der UDI Ian Smith in­tro­duced im­port sub­sti­tu­tion, which saw no one im­port­ing com­modi­ties.

He said the Gov­ern­ment had also brought an ex­port ini­tia­tive in­cen­tive to pro­mote ex­porters.

“For­eign cur­rency should be earned first. It’s un­for­tu­nate that the peo­ple who make noise the most don’t un­der­stand. Some peo­ple panic at the in­tro­duc­tion of bond notes but they don’t have the money,” he said.

Dr Man­gudya said most peo­ple wanted to have money on them but in other coun­tries peo­ple rarely use cash but in­stead rely on plas­tic money.

“Dur­ing the past two weeks we have been se­cur­ing money and it is com­ing but do not abuse it. We can use plas­tic money for some trans­ac­tions.

“The prob­lem is that we are now ad­dicted to the US dol­lar. Peo­ple also smug­gle min­er­als. We need to in­crease pro­duc­tion by com­ing up with good in­vest­ment poli­cies and then we can boost pro­duc­tiv­ity,” he said.

Some of the peo­ple who at­tended the lun­cheon raised con­cern that cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties such as ex­ter­nal­is­ing cash was be­ing done by busi­ness­men and not or­di­nary peo­ple.

They said the Gov­ern­ment should also lead by ex­am­ple by buy­ing lo­cal goods with min­is­ters and Gov­ern­ment depart­ments buy­ing lo­cal cars.

Oth­ers sug­gested that an in­cen­tive be given to man­u­fac­tur­ers to boost pro­duc­tion.

Dr John Man­gudya

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