As the battle between the Medical Research Council and the Department of Health heightens over a "failed" HIV vaccine trial, another HIV vaccine trial is silently going on.
This time the trial is an initiative of the International HIV Vaccine Trial Network, but is spearheaded by the MRC.
The trial which has been named Phambili, meaning "forward", will help researchers establish whether the vaccine affords protection against the HI virus.
Anthony Mbewu, president of the MRC, said this vaccine was one of the most promising available internationally.
"For South Africa to be conducting this trial is a significant and exciting step forward in our search for a successful vaccine against HIV-Aids," said Mbewu.
"It is the first trial to gauge the preliminary effectiveness of a vaccine, and it is the largest to be conducted in the country. It will provide excellent experience for our researchers, clinicians and communities for future large-scale HIV vaccine trials," he said.
Trials began last month in four provinces - Gauteng, Western Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal.
Three thousand participants have been recruited from all the participating provinces, and already 27 people have been screened in Soweto.
Lawrence Corey, principal investigator, said the trial would answer several major scientific questions that face the field of HIV-vaccine development.
"It will determine the usefulness of the vaccines that induce high immune response to the parts of the virus that are similar between different strains of HIV-1," said Corey.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has launched a probe into all health- related research projects, but its scope and scale have yet to clarified. She is notorious for her approach to HIV-Aids.
Recent results on a microbicidal gel, containing cellulose sulfate, showed a potential to increase the risk of HIV infection instead of lowering it.