10 Years summed up in a quote and 3 songs


There is one thing even more vital to science than intelligent methods; and that is, the sincere desire to find out the truth, whatever it may be.

— Charles Sanders Peirce
This post is dedicated to a dear friend, EF, who suggested that October 13 should be a mike-drop moment.  Erik, this one is for you my friend.

Song 1.  Foo Fighters:  The Pretender

This song’s lyrics encapsulate my experience of the past 10 years dealing with gD-2 subunit vaccine proponents on NIH Grant Proposals and Manuscripts.

Foo Fighters, The Pretender.

I’m the voice inside your head
You refuse to hear
I’m the face that you have to face
Mirrored in your stare
I’m what’s left, I’m what’s right
I’m the enemy
I’m the hand that will take you down
Bring you to your knees

So who are you [who continue to advocate for gD-2-based vaccines]?

…..You’re the pretender
What if I say I will never surrender?

Song 2.  Rush:  Mission

This song’s lyrics capture what would drive a scientist to swim against the prevailing current for as long as it takes to accomplish the task at hand.

Halford, 2007 predicted where we would arrive today, but I had to start my own company in 2015 to make it happen.  I have navigated a myriad of reviewers of NIH grants and manuscripts who between 2008 and 2014 continued to ignore the mounting evidence my lab was gathering that showed that a live HSV-2 vaccine worked about 100 times better than the gD-2 subunit trash that the NIH has spent hundreds of millions of dollars investigating.  The following song describes the essence of what gives any scientist the will and desire to work for a decade or more to dispel the ignorance and misinformation that blinds his older colleagues to a simple truth that is being illuminated by a new line of scientific inquiry.  Such willful ignorance is usually reflective of scientist’s general unwillingness to admit their understanding of one specific topic (within their broader field of study) has been based on one or more erroneous assumption they were misled to believe were true 20 – 40 years earlier.
Spirits fly on dangerous missions
Imaginations on fire
Focused high on soaring ambitions
Consumed in a single desire
In the grip of
A nameless possession
A slave to the drive of obsession
A spirit with a vision
Is a dream with a mission

Song 3.  Tom Petty:  Won’t Back Down
This song’s lyrics capture why I co-founded RVx with Agustin Fernandez III.  The scientific community and inertia drew a box that effectively said, “The conventional powers-that-be will never consider a live HSV-2 vaccine in the United States.” To which I said, “95% of the world’s population and a similar amount of surface area is not under your jurisdiction.  If you choose to be willfully ignorant, then I will choose to side-step your little power trip (that runs counter to how science progresses) and go straight to herpes sufferers to develop the financial resources and tools I need to solve this problem without you.”
RVx’s October 13, 2016 announcement is the culmination of 4 years of my life, quietly working in the background with Agustin Fernandez III (without any support from the NIH or the scientific establishment in the USA) to complete the vaccination portion of a Phase I Clinical Trial of the Theravax^HSV-2 Vaccine in the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis.  I note that all of the trial participants were citizens of the USA or United Kingdom, and flew from their homes to get the treatments they wanted and needed, but which the U.S.’s FDA and NIH have ignored for the past decade despite the mounting evidence that this is the first real solution to the herpes problem.
Well, I won’t back down
No I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down
No I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground

And I won’t back down

The point for NIH reviewers and my scientific peers is simple…..live HSV-2 vaccines are 100 times better than gD-2 subunit trash in mice, guinea pigs……and in humans too, so enough with the willful ignorance.  RVx’s announcement of the preliminary findings of a Phase I Clinical Trial of its Theravax^HSV-2 vaccine should begin to dispel the ludicrous claim that a live interferon-sensitive HSV-2 ICP0¯ mutant vaccine strain that is grossly attenuated in SCID mice would be “too dangerous” to test in humans.  This was always a willfully ignorant claim, but now RVx has the data from human subjects to show what clinical trial participants think of the live HSV-2 ICP0¯ mutant vaccine strain that was injected intradermally in the skin of their calves.  Oh, and by the way, this therapeutic HSV-2 vaccine provided some badly needed relief to sufferers of a chronic disease that was unresponsive to antiviral drugs such as valacyclovir and acyclovir.

I was in 4th grade when scientists first proposed acyclovir-like drugs to treat and prevent herpes. Guys, I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that any approach that has been failing for 30 years is probably a dead-end.  The 70s will forever be the decade of disco, but I am afraid that all of the 70s era-herpes technologies we are still using in 2016 (acyclovir-like drugs; HSV antibody-capture ELISAs; and DNA-free HSV subunit vaccines) just have not worked out.  It is time to consider some newer, 21st century technologies in the space of herpes diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.

Our focus should not be on the self-interests of a handful of people who stand to profit from the status quo, but should be focused on helping millions of people who needlessly suffer with a chronic viral disease called “recurrent herpes,” whose effects are not well controlled by acyclovir-based drugs that (1) often fail to curb decades of suffering by herpes patients, and that (2) have failed for decades to meaningfully reduce the risk of transmission of HSV-1 or HSV-2-driven disease from herpes sufferers to those they love.

Preventative live HSV vaccines that actually work can end this needless fear.  The data from RVx’s recent Phase I Clinical Trial suggests that a therapeutic live HSV-2 ICP0¯ mutant vaccine provides better control of herpes symptoms than current acyclovir-based antiviral drugs, which have been the standard of care in the USA for the past 20 years.

Let’s try something different for a change, and I would suggest that a live HSV-2 ICP0¯ mutant vaccine, proven safe in a Phase I Clinical Trial, is a rational place to start.  I have been describing, repeatedly, for the past 10 years why this approach offers a safe and effective approach with the potential to reduce the burden of herpetic disease in the human population by > 99.9%.

So, invoking my inner Jesse Pinkman, I say to my fellow scientists who have been triaging my NIH grants for the past decade, “Enough with the willful ignorance, βιτγθ!

–  Bill H.

7 thoughts on “10 Years summed up in a quote and 3 songs

  1. Guess says:

    Mr. Halford presentation that the theraVax was able to actually able to reduce symptoms of HSV 1 just as good. This leads me to believe that if HSV 2 infected get provax HSV 1 the virus will be nerfed for HSV 2. Since the virus are more or less the same and the body doesn’t build immuity to on virus if you get infected by wild strain of other. Do you think this could be a correct assumption?


  2. Anon says:

    I can’t even express how happy I am for you Dr. Halford. I’m proud to have donated to your efforts, and to have gotten out the word to others I know about what you’re trying to accomplish.

    You’re kind of my hero right now, no matter how it turns out 🙂


    • Mark says:

      Halford; you have saved my life. The day I was diagnosed with this overly stigmatized disease was the darkest day of my life. For years after I was a miserable wreck not wanting to get out of bed. The feeling was like a constant night mare, a dark cloud always above my head. I was never a believer in God, and wanted to believe in this super power to have hope… Hope that this isnt it. Hope that my after life will be better because like many who are stuck with this disease, its a never ending night mare and negatively destroys you psychologically impeding your chances at progressing in life. Worst of all Its very hard to talk about it with anyone for fear of being judged and disrespected; I have lost many friends after disclosing this disease because I to them was the laughable clown who totally screwed up in life. Anyways, thank you Halford and thank you for caring about so many. Its time we stop putting money in the pockets of a few greedy corrupt individuals and start caring for humanity as you do.


  3. TCBH says:

    Love it! This is beyond words Dr. Halford. I hope all your work continues to be successful and you leave a legacy beyond compare! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts……

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.