By Dili San Jules
Dr Jeremiah Abalaka, the man behind a controversial vaccine for HIV between 1999 and 2000, will only divulge recipe for his vaccine under a “negotiated agreement”, after a court ruled that federal government was wrong to ban it. The Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2000 suspended use of the vaccine, claimed to prevent or cure HIV, until proper guidelines for assessing and verifying the claims are approved.
A federal high court in Makurdi ruled last November there was no evidence that guidelines for assessment and verification had “been put in place 15 years on, and it does not appear that there is any in the offing,” and decided the ban on Abalaka’s vaccine “was done arbitrarily and thus illegal, null and void.”
It also said Abalaka could only administer his vaccine to patients that have given their consent.
“Since the government is not doing anything to help them, it is only proper for the persons so infected to have a right to decide for themselves whether to use [Abalaka’s] vaccine or not,” the court said in its ruling November 13 last year. The ruling comes nearly 15 years after Abalaka sued federal government and the attorney general of the federation in attempts to stop the ban on his vaccine. National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control joined as defendants.
Abalaka has said his vaccine, made from human blood to prevent and cure HIV, does not fall under the jurisdiction of NAFDAC, which regulates drugs of animal or chemical origin. The court said that desperation surrounding HIV, like Ebola, require desperate measures, stressing the vaccine was palliative, though NAFDAC and government failed to give any cogent reason for the ban and did not show any negative side effect or report.
Abalaka, 67, who returned to his Gwagwalada, Abuja MediCrest Clinic while the legal case dragged on, told a press conference on Saturday that he was willing to “work with the various interested governments under a negotiated agreement whereby I will divulge my HIV vaccine recipe to their chosen or acceptable representatives.”
He also said he would organise a workshop with practical sessions on production, storage and administration of the vaccine. His method for producing vaccine based on human blood has been a tightly guarded secret, though he admitted sharing details of his vaccine production with the editor of the journal Vaccine, which published his research paper in 2004.
Global health guidelines did not robustly support treatment regimes based on human blood until the latest Ebola outbreak when World Health Organisation shifted its stance, allowing drugmakers to harvest antibodies from the blood of Ebola survivors.
Abalaka stunned the international medical world with claims between 1999 and 2000 vaccine he developed using human blood could treat HIV, effectively turning a carrier serostatus to negative, or prevent a person from being infected. He’s famously claimed injecting himself with HIV-positive blood six times but remained negative.
He told journalists that the court ruling has opened “one more opportunity for our governments to make the necessary amends after 16 years of monumental, unpatriotic, unscientific, arbitrary, and now, illegal mishandling.”