Sanofi Pasteur, Save lives: prioritize and accelerate the HSV15 vaccine trials

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Herpes simplex virus is one of the most frequent sexually transmitted infections worldwide. Herpes diagnoses often lead to intense feelings of shame, embarrassment, depression and even suicidal thoughts. Big data scientist, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, who studies Google searches, found that the number one search that people googled before “how to commit suicide” was a health problem. The most common health problem searched? Herpes (1).

Sanofi Pasteur, your HSV15 clinical trial is giving millions of people hope as they are navigating their diagnoses with herpes simplex virus. Herpes sufferers have been closely following your very promising trials of the HSV15 therapeutic vaccine. When you acquired the HSV529 vaccine formulation over 10 years ago, those with herpes trusted that there was reason to hope – and once again, when your phase 1 trials showed safety and promising results in 2019, (8). Your latest clinical trials recruited participants quickly, with long waitlists of people waiting for a chance to potentially get your vaccine. We have read anecdotal stories of relief from those participating in your current phase 1/2 clinical trials and were let down to see yet another delay in the progress of these trials. Do not delay these vaccine trials any further. Make the hundreds of millions of people awaiting relief your priority – prioritize and accelerate HSV15.

Herpes Facts:

  • According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 67% of the population under age 50 (3.7 billion people) have HSV-1 infection globally. (2)
  • WHO reports that 13% of people worldwide aged 15-49 (491 million people) have HSV-2 infection. (2) 
  • According to Harvard Health, “at least 25% of adults in the United States are infected with HSV-2, and experts project that a million more will become infected every year”. (3)
  •  In one study referenced by Harvard Health, researchers found HSV-2 infections in 36% of women ages 40–49 and nearly 30% of women ages 50–59. (3)
  • The CDC does NOT recommend testing for herpes on standard STD panels, leading people to believe they've been "tested for everything" when in fact they have not been tested for an extremely common, extremely contagious, life-altering disease. People believe they're being responsible when actually they are putting themselves and others at risk of serious harm. (4)
  • HSV infection can also lead to more severe complications such as encephalitis (brain infection) or keratitis (eye infection). Herpes keratitis remains the leading infectious cause of corneal ulcers and blindness worldwide. (2,6)
  • HSV2 is associated with a 2- to 3- fold increased risk for HIV infection. (9) • Nearly 15,000 babies are born each year in the United States with neonatal herpes, which occurs when an infant is exposed to HSV in the genital tract during delivery. Neonatal herpes a serious condition that can lead to lasting neurologic disability or death. (7)

Sources:

1.https://www.mamamia.com.au/celebrities-with-herpes/

2. https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/01-05-2020-massive-proportion-world-population-living-with-herpes-infection#:~:text=Prevalence%20and%20incidence,-An%20estimated%20491.5&text=HSV%2D2%20is%20almost%20exclusively,population%20aged%200%20to%2049

3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-sexual-health/genital_herpes_common_but_misunderstood

4. https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/screening.htm

5. https://www.vaccineplace.com/docs/ACQUISITION_ACAMBIS.pdf

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545278/

7. Donda, K., Sharma, M., Amponsah, J.K. et al. Trends in the incidence, mortality, and cost of neonatal herpes simplex virus hospitalizations in the United States from 2003 to 2014. J Perinatol 39, 697–707 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41372-019-0352-7

8. https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/220/6/990/5486075

9. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/why-genital-herpes-boosts-risk-hiv-infection