CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

A vaccine that looked promising for HIV doesn’t work

February 4, 2020, 1:52 AM UTC

This is the web version of Brainstorm Health Daily, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top health care news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here.

Good afternoon, readers.

At this point, I think we’re all aware that the coronavirus is a matter of concern (but, for those of us lucky enough to be in a nation with a strong health infrastructure, not too much of a concern).

The World Health Organization and others are keeping track of the spread of this coronavirus, as well as the progress of containment and treatment that is crucial to the health and well-being of millions of people in the affected countries.

But there’s been some other news this week about other virus containment that is, frankly, upsetting. Clinical trials for a vaccine to treat HIV have been nixed after being found ineffective.

The study, in South Africa, had been touted as what could, eventually, become a pioneering light in the struggle against the scourge.

Alas, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said on Monday that the trial wouldn’t come to fruition. It wasn’t unsafe, per se-but it also wasn’t effective. Don’t take it from me—those were the words the director of the NIAID Dr. Anthony Fauci issued in a written statement.

The news is an unfortunate reminder that though the new coronavirus strain is on everybody’s mind, it is far from the most devastating health issue facing the world. The new strain has reportedly led to the deaths of around 425 people to date with about 20,000 infected, per Chinese health officials. But HIV infects an average of 1.7 million people are newly infected with HIV every year.

That’s not to discount the nature of the coronavirus threat. Any public health concern should be taken seriously. But seeing these numbers today is a reminder to me that it’s important to look beyond the health crisis of the moment and, as always, to put things in perspective.

Read on for the rest of the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Broken genes and schizophrenia. A new study reported by the journal Nature attempts to bridge the complicated genetic gap of mental health illnesses and people's inherent biologies—specifically, amongst a specific racial group. Why is this important? Research into the science of mental illness (and illness in general) tends to exclude under-represented groups such as racial minorities, which can create a chasm when it comes to developing effective treatments. (Nature)


Gilead's foray into a coronavirus vaccine. The coronavirus story has been evolving minute to minute. On the vaccine development front, however, Gilead appears to have an early advantage (for now, anyways)—the company's experimental treatment for infectious diseases will be deployed in actual, real-life humans in Wuhan on a limited basis. Gilead is far from the only company or organization acting on this front. Here's a more detailed explication of the situation(Fortune)


A long-acting drug for knee pain got the Super Bowl treatment this past week. I spoke with former NFL star Solomon Wilcots ahead of yesterday's intense Super Bowl game. We didn't really talk sports, though—we focused on the marketing and advertising extravaganza called Radio Row which takes place the week leading up to the Super Bowl, and the various products (including pain treatments) which get promoted during that time. (Fortune)


What you need to know about new IBM CEO Arvind Krishnaby David Z. Morris

Should your company take design more seriously?by Nate Berg

The coronavirus plunge in China's marketsby Bernhard Warner

Sign up for other Fortune newsletters.