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In this long read published to coincide with International AIDS Day, we explore how an international collaboration – of which the University of Oxford is a key partner – has boosted HIV vaccine research. We thank our partners at Imperial College London for allowing us to reproduce and abridge this article.

An illustration that depicts scientists strategizing around a drawing of an HIV virus © Marzia Munafo

Since COVID-19 reared its head in December 2019, the global scientific community has developed several effective vaccines against the virus. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in December 2020, just one year after COVID-19 was first detected. Around the same time, the UK government also approved a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca.

HIV has been around for decades, and hundreds of thousands of people around the world die every year from the disease, yet no effective vaccine exists.

‘Without a vaccine, we will not be able to control the AIDS epidemic,’ said Tomáš Hanke, Professor of Vaccine Immunology at the Jenner Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.

‘We’ve been trying to develop a vaccine for HIV for over 30 years as a field,’ said Professor Robin Shattock, Head of Mucosal Infection and Immunity within the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London.

‘It still remains one of the biggest biological challenges of a generation.’

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website