Virtual VDC
November 3, 2021

Basic Science

Pushing the Envelope:
Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies Against HIV
Novel Vaccine Strategies to Induce Them


Mark Feinberg, MD, PhD

President & CEO
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)

Clubhouse Location:
A Zoom screen near you
Agenda: (all times Eastern time zone)
6:25pm — Grab a beer, a glass of wine, or a soda from the fridge and get online
6:30pm — Meeting called to order in the usual way (ear muffs optional)
6:40pm — This is the part where some really excellent science is presented
7:30pm — Q & A
7:45pm — Adjourn, already dreaming of next month's program

Dear Vacciners,
In 1984, during a national news conference announcing the discovery of HTLV-III (now known as HIV), Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler quite famously said: "We hope to have a vaccine ready for testing in about two years. Yet another terrible disease is about to yield to patience, persistence and outright genius."

Almost 40 years and 47 million deaths later... Hmmm.

Fast forward to 2021. A mere 23 months since SARS-CoV-2 was first detected, multiple highly effective vaccines have already been developed and licensed, over 6.8 Billion doses have already been administered, and 37% of the globe's entire human population have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


So why has Covid-19 so rapidly yielded to 'patience, persistence, and outright genius' when HIV has ... not so much?

One difference is that, comparitively speaking, SARS-CoV-2 viruses behave like 18th century British soldiers while HIV tends to channel its inner 16th century Japanese ninja.

Specifically, even though 18th century Red Coats -- named for their signature scarlet-colored tunics -- were famously lethal, the Brits were also easy for defenders to spot at a distance and highly vulnerable to being mowed down in large numbers, because they frequently marched in well disciplined mass formations across open ground.

Sub in 'SARS-CoV-2' for 'Red Coats' and 'Covid vaccine-induced antibodies' for 'defenders' above and you get the picture.

In contrast, as recorded in this interesting article, 16th century Japanese ninja "were mercenaries who specialized in covert warfare." They "would sneak into enemy territory, usually in the guise of priests, monks, entertainers, or other travellers ... and infiltrate enemy castles, not only to gather information, but also to spread dissent and undertake acts of sabotage. While popular culture often depicts ninja scaling castle walls with grappling hooks, and melting away into dark corners to avoid detection, most historical accounts refer to them relying on deception – often by disguising themselves as enemy soldiers."

Does that sound like the way HIV operates or what? And what kind of vaccine-induced antibodies does it take to see through HIV's multiple disguises and track down individual viruses that are really, really good at hiding?

In short, SARS-CoV-2 presents a MUCH simpler vaccine target than does HIV, which -- as it turns out -- requires a wilier Spy vs Spy approach.

So how are the efforts going to develop better and better vaccines capable of ferreting out and neutralizing HIV?

Come to the November 3 meeting of the VDC when Vaccine Dinner Club charter member (now IAVI President and CEO) Mark Feinberg gives us a Basic Science peek under the hood at current strategies.

Register Now for the Wednesday, November 3 meeting.

Kimbi Hagen
(Your friendly neighborhood VDC goddess)