Geert V. Bossche: How to Tame this Pandemic & The unforgivable sin!

Author: G. Vanden Bossche, DVM, PhD.   Bios:  DVM from University of Ghent, Belgium. PhD in Virology from University of Hohenheim, Germany. After holding adjunct faculty appointments at universities in Belgium and Germany, Geert Bossche did vaccine research and development for GSK Biologicals, Novartis Vaccines, and Solvay Biologicals, eventually becoming the Senior Program Officer for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Discovery team in Seattle (USA) working with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) in Geneva as Senior Ebola Program Manager.  Geert Bossche subsequently joined the German Center for Infection Research in Cologne as Head of the Vaccine Development Office, and is now primarily serving as a Global Health and Biotech/ Vaccine consultant while conducting independent research on NK (Natural Killer) cell-based vaccines and studying the impact of mass vaccination on the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Keep looking at snapshots and you’ll never see where this pandemic is headed ... until it reaches its final destination. October 15, 2021.

Q: Why are the current Covid-19 mass vaccinations to be considered a public health experiment of international concern? October 22, 2021.

A: First, there is no precedent to the use of non-replicating viral vaccines in mass vaccination campaigns conducted during a pandemic, or even epidemic, of a highly mutable virus. The challenge of such an undertaking becomes even more difficult as more infectious antigenic variants had already been circulating by the time the first mass vaccination campaigns were initiated (i.e., Alpha, Beta, and Gamma variants). Their spread was featured by distinct temporal and geographic patterns, the underlying mechanism of which was not understood. Prior to the start of this universal vaccination program no single publication existed that came even close to suggesting that mass vaccinations using vaccines that permit transmission could be successful in extinguishing a pandemic of a highly mutable virus. No such publication exists to this day, and the idea becomes even more preposterous when considering several infectious variants had already expanded in prevalence by the time the vaccines were rolled out.  There is ample evidence from similarly highly mutable RNA viruses like Influenza virus and Enterovirus that expansion in prevalence of antigenic variants is driven by selective immune pressure on viral infectiousness exerted by antibodies, and that antigenic variation diminishes or even abolishes the protective neutralization capacity of Influenza virus or Enterovirus vaccines directed at a specific antigenic lineage (1, 2). Consequently, nonreplicating monovalent enteroviral vaccines, for example, are only used at scale in vaccination campaigns of vulnerable target groups (e.g., children) deployed to fight recurrent epidemics of life-threatening enterovirus infection (e.g., EV-A71) in the Asia Pacific region (3). Interestingly, the US FDA did not approve these vaccines due to ‘concerns about the effectiveness against different pandemic strains, safety, and quality control of vaccine production’ (3).     

Mass vaccination programs previously conducted to combat viral epidemics/pandemics (e.g., smallpox, polio, measles, yellow fever) have nothing in common with the ongoing mass vaccination campaigns today as those viruses are very different in terms of their pathogenesis, transmissibility, route of infection, potential reservoirs, predominant effector mechanisms involved in antiviral immunity, susceptibility of population segments, as well as with regard to the vaccines used (all prior vaccination campaigns involved live-attenuated virus).

In addition, vaccine efficacy as assessed during clinical trials is different from viral effectiveness, which reflects how well a vaccine performs in the field. Viral effectiveness, therefore, depends on the level of infectious pressure exerted by the viral population and the level of immune selection pressure exerted by the host population (among other factors). Those can be very different from the ones prevailing during clinical trials. This particularly applies when the vaccine is used in mass vaccination campaigns rolled out in the middle of a pandemic of more infectious variants. Because of large-scale pharmaceutical (e.g., mass vaccination) and nonpharmaceutical (e.g., infection-prevention measures) human interventions, significant changes in viral infectious pressure and population-level immune pressure can suddenly take place and dramatically accelerate or slow down the evolutionary dynamics of a pandemic, especially if more infectious variants are circulating.

 

Whereas the final target population should have the same profile as the one enrolled in the vaccine trials, current Covid-19 (C-19) vaccines are now administered to several segments of the population that have not been part of the pivotal clinical trials that enabled their authorization for emergency use (e.g., children, elderly, pregnant women, women of childbearing age, individuals who previously recovered from Covid-19 disease). Furthermore, the follow-up of study participants in the clinical trials did not extend beyond 3 months as the WHO had declared the pandemic a health emergency of international concern. Short-term results from clinical vaccine trials that were conducted on a small subset of a specific target population during a short period of a pandemic caused by a specific SARS-CoV-2  lineage (most notably the original Wuhan strain) cannot even be considered informative for vaccine effectiveness of mass vaccination campaigns deployed globally across almost all population segments over a prolonged period of a pandemic trajectory involving several waves of infection caused by several different more infectious viral variants. For example, enhanced propagation and dominance of more infectious variants occurs as a result of widespread (i.e., population-level) immune selection pressure on viral infectiousness, and the corresponding impact on the effectiveness of the vaccines rapidly evolves as a function of rising vaccination coverage rates. Stated more bluntly, short-term results from small-scale vaccine efficacy studies are anything but representative of the public health impact of these imperfect[1] vaccines when used in mass vaccination campaigns during a pandemic of more infectious variants. This alone clearly illustrates that the use of current vaccines in the ongoing mass vaccination campaigns is purely experimental and empirical from a perspective of effectiveness on public health.  

Mass vaccination with imperfect vaccines is prone to promoting propagation of naturally selected, spike(S)-directed immune escape variants in the population, and ongoing campaigns are causing the population to place even more pressure on viral infectiousness. This is, therefore, likely to expedite the already worrisome evolution of mutants into immune escape variants that further resist neutralizing vaccinal Abs while also presenting other problematic characteristics such as enhanced infectiousness or virulence (4, 5). It goes without saying that such ‘super variants’, as molecular epidemiologists tend to call them, bear life-threatening potential to both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals.

Furthermore, re-exposure to circulating viral variants in the presence of low affinity antibodies[2] could potentially provoke life-threatening antibody-dependent enhancement of C-19 disease (ADE). Clearly, results from clinical studies do not permit the drawing of any conclusions regarding the impact of viral exposure in the presence of low affinity antibodies. Consequently, big question marks remain as to the likelihood that ADE, or whether other immunogenicity-related adverse events could occur as an indirect result of vaccination (6). It is important to note that previous efforts to develop a SARS-CoV-1 vaccine[3] had been abrogated due to the occurrence of ADE in preclinical models (7).

Emerging data have shown that the S protein itself is a crucial element responsible for the vascular pathology of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection (8). Therefore, C-19 vaccines that induce human cells to produce the very same protein that is involved in viral pathogenicity should be carefully tested to make sure that such protein is not expressed systemically in the body after vaccination, or the effects of vaccination could result in a pathology similar to C-19 disease itself. However, data on the biodistribution in the human body of de novo synthesized S protein after vaccination are, for example, lacking and there were no pre-clinical animal studies done to evaluate this either. To this day, what tissues produce the S protein after vaccination with nucleic acid vaccines has not been conclusively elucidated, and concerning findings are emerging. The disproportionally high number of severe and common adverse events observed after administration of nucleic acid-based C-19 vaccines, such as deep-venous thrombosis, stroke, myocarditis, death, and others (9), suggests that the S protein can be expressed in a variety of tissues in the body, where it exerts pathogenic effects in subjects that experience adverse events. Many questions remain unanswered regarding the pathogenic mechanism underlying the observed vaccine-associated adverse events, while mass vaccination continues, and 16,310 deaths from C-19 vaccination have been reported as of October 1st, 2021, in the US alone (9).

Based on all the above, widespread deployment of current Covid-19 vaccines in large-scale vaccination campaigns should first and foremost be considered highly experimental and empirical in terms of the efficacy and safety[4] outcome as well as in terms of the impact on individual and public health. Because the experimental use of current Covid-19 vaccines raises serious concerns regarding their effectiveness and their potential to cause serious harm to both individuals and the public at large, one can only conclude that vaccination mandates are completely unethical.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5861807/pdf/khvi-14-03-1373228.pdf
  2. https://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1008857
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7997495/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33688681/
  5. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0250780
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33717193/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6178114/
  8. SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Impairs Endothelial Function via Downregulation of ACE 2 - PubMed (nih.gov)

VAERS Summary for COVID-19 Vaccines through 10/1/2021 – VAERS Analysis

 

[1] ‘imperfect’ vaccine relates to a vaccine that has no viral transmission-blocking capacity

[2] Low affinity binding of anti-S antibodies may occur when titers of vaccinal antibodies against viral variants wane or as a result from asymptomatic infection of unvaccinated persons.

[3] SARS-CoV-1 is another beta-coronavirus; it emerged in 2003 (in Guangdong Province, China) and caused severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV).

[4] An extensive description of reported safety issues associated with one or more Covid-19 vaccines can be found at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AD0lL3Rm4lDExo4q7McBxeeHOqO8bCWWerlGu7YJubQ/edit

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Keep asking the wrong questions and we’ll never tame this pandemic! October 10, 2021.

Experts, Public Health authorities and politicians are all the time asking the wrong questions.

Questions like: “Who shed more, the vaccinated or unvaccinated?” or “Who is better protected, the vaccinated or the unvaccinated?” are simply completely irrelevant when it comes to understanding the real challenge posed by this pandemic. Everyone should know by now that ALL of us could shed ‘more’ or ‘less’ virus than anyone else or could be ‘more’ or ‘less’ susceptible than anyone else, regardless of our vaccination status.

So, what are then the right questions to ask?

The right questions ‘they’ should be asking themselves is: “How can we impact viral infection/ transmission in ways that dramatically and durably reduce overall viral spread of more infectious Sars-CoV-2 variants in the population (i.e., in all of us)?” and “How can we impact host immunity in ways that dramatically and durably increase overall protection against disease in the population (i.e., in all of us)?”

The answer to both questions is actually rather straightforward and simply based on common sense:

Population-level viral spread in highly vaccinated populations could dramatically and durably be reduced by massive antiviral chemoprophylaxis of all healthy individuals, subsequently followed by enrichment of these populations with healthy, unvaccinated individuals (hence why we will need a baby boom and encourage the influx of young & healthy unvaccinated immigrants).

Population-level immune pressure in highly vaccinated populations could dramatically and durably be reduced by massive early treatment of all individuals contracting Covid-19 disease, which would (automatically) be followed by long-lived acquired immune protection.

Both of the above proposals will effectively contribute to building herd immunity, which is the one and only solution to tame a pandemic. Or are the stakeholders of the current mass vaccination program still convinced that – contrary to all scientific evidence – it is mass vaccination that will ultimately end up generating herd immunity and that the virus will spontaneously tone down its virulence, regardless of all immune and infectious pressure currently exerted by the increasingly vaccinated and virus-exposed population, respectively?

As the original pandemic is now more and more evolving towards a pandemic of more infectious Sars-CoV-2 variants, we have no choice but to immediately implement a pancontinental intervention with broadly effective antivirals and early multi-drug treatment. Given the enhanced evolutionary context of this pandemic, there is no longer any place for non-sterilizing vaccines, let alone for using such vaccines in mass vaccination campaigns.  


Oct. 2021. The unforgivable sin!

One wonders how it is possible that while it has now been reported that vaccinated shed and transmit as much virus as unvaccinated people [1], the vaccinated are still protected against severe disease whereas the unvaccinated are said to be unprotected. So, how can one explain that viral shedding and transmission and hence, viral replication no longer seem to be impacted by the vaccine whereas the opposite still applies to the occurrence of (severe) disease?

Based on their study results, the authors from the above-mentioned report  conclude that there is no significant difference in viral load between groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated, asymptomatic and symptomatic people who became infected with SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant. So, again: Considering that vaccinees shed and transmit as much virus as unvaccinated people, how could one even postulate that unvaccinated people are susceptible to severe disease whereas vaccinees are still largely protected from severe disease?

Frankly speaking, this doesn’t make any sense at all. So there must be a ‘small’ detail the current ‘narrative’ overlooked.

Wait a minute ... Does the above-mentioned comparison of viral load between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated include people who contracted SEVERE disease?  It didn’t!  So, could it be that the unvaccinated are only susceptible to severe disease when their first (i.e., innate) line of immune defense is weakened because of a lowered functional capacity of their innate, poly-reactive antibodies (Abs)?  Hmmm, this could definitely explain why elderly people and those who’re immune suppressed or have underlying diseases are susceptible to severe Covid-19 disease. But what about our healthy youngsters and children as these age groups are thought to have excellent innate, pre-existing immune effector cells (except for those born with rare genetic deficiencies of innate immune effector genes) but are now also increasingly contracting severe Covid-19 disease. Could this be due to spike(S)-specific Abs that young and healthy children may harbor for up to 8 weeks after they contracted asymptomatic infection and that out-compete their innate protective Abs [2, p.1-2] and [3].  If this is true, this would imply that only a small part of young and unvaccinated people are susceptible to severe disease (i.e., those who get quite rapidly re-exposed to Sars-CoV-2 after previous infection) but that the vast majority of them are still protected from severe disease, regardless of which Sars-CoV-2 lineage is predominant in the circulating viral population. This seems, indeed, to be the case! Or do some of our ‘experts’ believe that the unvaccinated children and youngsters who don’t get Covid-19 disease have simply not been exposed to the virus at all? But how could that happen given the fact that in most countries the pandemic started over 1.5 years ago and that we’re now dealing with highly infectious variants and that infection prevention measures have largely been relaxed?


So, maybe we should not compare the functional immune capacity of unvaccinated youngsters who get severe disease with that of those who only get mild or moderate disease or don’t develop symptoms at all. However, it is viral transmission and shedding in the latter that has been compared to that in vaccinees [4]. Does anybody realize that

  1. protection from (severe) disease in healthy children and youngsters is due to innate Abs ([5] see topic 1 in references from the literature on www.geertvandenbossche.org ), even regardless of the possible short-term presence of poorly functional S-directed Abs (which may even contribute to diminishing rather than strengthening their immune defence)?
  2. this mechanism of protection is fundamentally different from the one protecting vaccinees from severe disease? When present in sufficient concentration, high affinity, antigen-specific Abs readily outcompete low affinity, multi-specific Abs for binding to the same antigen [6 p.1-2]. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that vaccinees experience long-lived functional suppression of their protective, CoV-recognizing innate Abs and are thereby left to rely on their vaccinal S-specific Abs for protection against severe disease [7].

As the mechanism of immune defense in vaccinees is totally different from the one at play in unvaccinated individuals, the mantra of mass vaccination stakeholders that vaccination of youngsters and children will provide them with improved protection from contracting severe disease is a textbook example of scientific nonsense. Their irrational, erroneous extrapolations lead people to believe that they should get their children vaccinated whereas there is barely any more catastrophic immune intervention one could think of. In line with the intrinsic functional properties of innate, multi-specific Abs, healthy children and youngsters are NOT ‘naturally’ susceptible to any Sars-CoV-2 lineage but exclusively acquire such susceptibility as a direct consequence of functional suppression of their well-established innate immune capacity due to a rapid re-exposure event or, even much worse and long-lived, due to vaccination. The likelihood of rapid re-exposure to Sars-CoV-2 after previous infection dramatically increases when highly infectious variants expand in prevalence. Such an expansion in prevalence directly results from mass vaccination campaigns as mass vaccination turns vaccinees into an excellent breeding ground for naturally selected S-directed immune escape variants.


So, unless there is any contradiction in the above reasoning and unless somebody could explain how similar viral replication and transmission dynamics in vaccinated as compared to unvaccinated individuals could lead to dissimilar clinical manifestations of infection, we can only conclude that the scenario is the following: Vaccination of children and youngsters is turning off their broadly protective innate immunity in exchange for S-specific vaccinal Abs that are becoming increasingly useless since their neutralizing capacity becomes more and more eroded as a result of enhanced escape of Sars-CoV-2 from neutralizing Abs [NAbs](a trend that has been clearly confirmed by molecular epidemiologists [8]). Resistance to the neutralizing effect of vaccinal Abs that are nevertheless still able to bind Sars-CoV-2 virions and thereby outcompete protective innate Abs is likely to enhance the susceptibility of vaccinees to ADE (Ab-dependent enhancement of disease).

Unless virology and immunology are being rewritten, I cannot imagine how mass vaccination of our youngsters and children will not lead to an even more disastrous outcome of all the scientifically irrational and unjustifiable vaccination efforts. Not only will these dramatically increase the children’s risk to succumb to (accelerated) Covid-19 disease but it will also take away the highly efficient capacity of healthy, unvaccinated people to diminish the dangerous, ever rising viral infectious pressure in the population. By vaccinating our youngsters, children and, even more generally, all people in excellent health, we deprive an important part of the population from its ‘anti-viral’ capacity and instead turn them into a breeding ground for more infectious and increasingly NAb-resistant variants. In other words, mass vaccination of children will inevitably obstruct the process of building herd immunity in the population. While unvaccinated children who contract Covid-19 disease in the vast majority of cases don’t suffer severe disease and contribute to the buildup of herd immunity in the population, mass vaccination campaigns in children will prevent them from contributing to herd immunity, because more infectious viral variants are increasingly escaping from neutralization by vaccinal anti-S Abs and gaining a significant fitness advantage in such an immunological environment.

There can be no doubt that large scale immune interventions which ignore the immune pathogenesis of the disease are recipes for massive disasters.


It cannot be that highly knowledgeable vaccinologists don’t understand this clear-cut message. I can only shout at all of them, no matter their international reputation, the number of awards and recognitions they’ve gotten, the number of books they’ve written or high-ranked papers they've published in peer-reviewed journals: SHAME ON YOU FOR NOT STANDING UP!

Author: G. Vanden Bossche, DVM, PhD Oct. 2021

1 https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.09.28.21264262v2
2 https://www.geertvandenbossche.org/post/c-19-pandemia-quo-vadis-homo-sapiens: page 1-2

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7772470/pdf/fimmu-11-610300.pdf

4 https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.09.28.21264262v2
5 see topic 1 in references from the literature on website www.geertvandenbossche.org
6 https://www.geertvandenbossche.org/post/c-19-pandemia-quo-vadis-homo-sapiens: page 1-2
7 As the protective capacity of the vaccinal Abs is now increasingly waning, claims on vaccine-induced protection
have been toned down to ‘protection from severe disease’ only.
8 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33688681/