June 15, 2023

COVID-19 — Vaccine Efficacy & Viral Evolution

For the pdf, click here

In Memoriam: A Great Critical Thinker

The following contribution has been published in memory and honor of John Heathco (* Oct. 29th 1982 - † June 13th 2023), who himself originally published the very same article in October 2021 in German (Kernpunkte, 12-4, 31. October 2021: pp. 1-5). Even after all these months in the pandemic, I consider his article still highly relevant.

John Heathco was an entrepreneur who graduated at the top of his class with a degree in computer science & electrical engineering. While involved with a number of technology startups for many years, he eventually turned his health & wellness passion into a successful nutritional supplement brand. In the two years that we have collaborated together,
John had evolved from a computer engineer to somebody who holds a deep understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of the pandemic. He has been a textbook example of intellectual diligence in a world of crippling intellectual laziness. His comprehension of immunology, vaccinology, virology and evolutionary biology came on the back of being a curious mind. In fact, his intelligent questions always helped me improve my own insights and understanding of the pandemic dynamics.
I am indebted to John for editing, correcting, fine-tuning and even addressing flaws in my scientific phrasing for many manuscripts. John’s sudden departure is incredibly heartbreaking. He was one of the smartest and most kind-hearted individuals I ever met. John will be sorely missed by all of us.

G. Vanden Bossche, DVM, PhD, GM Voice for Science and Solidarity (

Introduction (by Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche)

All experts and public health authorities seem to agree that the evolutionary dynamics of a pandemic are very complex and shaped by a complex interplay between infectious pressure exerted by the virus on the host immune system and immune pressure exerted by the host on viral infectiousness. It is, therefore, surprising that none of them seem overly concerned of massive immune intervention in a pandemic where widespread highly infectious variants could disturb the evolutionary dynamics in ways that make the outcome of this situation much worse instead of much better.
When even laymen feel the need to voice their informed concern about experts advising for mass vaccination campaigns and government mandates, it's time we look deeper into these issues.

COVID-19 — Vaccine Efficacy & Viral Evolution

We’re coming up on the 2-year anniversary of the outbreak of the SARS-CoV- 2, and the vice continues to tighten over the control of (mis)information on virtually all communication platforms and media networks. While there are countless “experts” on the relevant topics of virology, epidemiology, and immunology, only the select few that spread the gospel of the various global health agencies are amplified— the rest remain silent or censored.

Science is a methodology that relies completely upon open debate, skepticism, and a recursive process of hypothesis formation, testing, and data collection. It’s now been perverted almost beyond recognition — a belief system (religion?) based upon “scientific consensus”. What many do not understand is that this consensus is easily distorted when groupthink rules the day and any opposition to it is no longer permitted: think geocentrism/heliocentrism (disproven astronomical models) or the revered “food pyramid.” There are countless examples of consensus and groupthink halting the progress of science and arguably damaging society on a massive scale.

The universal vaccination strategy that is being implemented across the globe in the midst of a pandemic is not only unproven in science (as there is no precedent), but potentially outright dangerous and may only prolong the pandemic. Here’s why:

“Leaky” Vaccines

Many of the vaccines that you’re likely familiar with produce what’s known as non-sterilizing immunity—that is, while they generate an immune response and help protect against disease to varying degrees, they do not completely stop a pathogen from infecting cells & replicating within your body. This contrasts with sterilizing vaccines that effectively prevent a virus from infecting cells altogether, quite similar to the immunity you develop after natural recovery from disease.

All current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are non-sterilizing and were designed specifically to prevent disease—they show significantly less efficacy at preventing infection and transmission. This poses a massive risk in the face of a highly mutable and transmissible respiratory virus. Well-respected virologists like Geert Vanden Bossche and Luc Montagnier (who won a Nobel prize for his discovery of HIV) warn of the inevitable adaptation of emergent, more infectious immune escape variants precisely because we’re executing a mass vaccination strategy with non-sterilizing vaccines in the middle of a pandemic.

If you haven’t already, I’d highly suggest you read the various papers of Vanden Bossche to understand this phenomenon, or watch one of his interviews on YouTube (assuming they have not been censored by the time you’re reading this).

This is somewhat analogous to antibiotic resistance. Although bacteria and viruses differ in many respects (as viruses cannot “survive" and replicate without a host), the evolutionary dynamics at play are quite similar. Antibiotic resistance arises due to the overuse & misuse of antibiotics to destroy bacterial pathogens— that’s why your doctor always tells you to finish your entire prescription course regardless of you feeling better: they’re well aware that any bacterium that isn’t destroyed can develop resistance to the treatment via mutations in the face of environmental selective pressure (the antibiotics themselves). As the bacteria proliferate while exposed to this selection pressure, the resistant bacterial variant will increasingly gain a competitive advantage and rapidly expand in prevalence.

Similarly, more infectious viral variants are naturally selected as a result of immune pressure placed on the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (which is responsible for viral infectiousness)—this is how these variants will dominate the viral population when repeatedly transmitted to individuals experiencing this same immune pressure as a result of mass immunization with “leaky” spike protein-based vaccines. You’d be wise to assume the inevitable and rapid emergence of viral resistance to antibodies targeting this protein—this is evolutionary biology 101.

Selective Pressure & Spike Protein

Viral immune escape becomes even more of an issue with the Covid-19 vaccines that primarily target only a limited number of epitopes within the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein (the region responsible for attaching to our cells). An excerpt from one of Vanden Bossche’s early advisories in February 2021 states:

Any intervention in the pandemic that directly (e.g., through mass immunization campaigns) exerts significant pressure on viral infectiousness (and hence, exerts selective pressure on the spike [S] protein) will enable the virus to escape whenever it gets exposed to S-specific Abs that are suboptimal, either in concentration or affinity. This will inevitably allow the virus to rapidly unfold more infectious, immune escape variants. Mass vaccination campaigns conducted after a prolonged period of infection prevention measures will dramatically increase pressure on viral infectiousness because of broad selective immune pressure on S protein (due to S-specific Abs). Such additional immune selection pressure, especially when exerted during the second wave of a CoV pandemic, is likely to precipitate and amplify viral immune escape.

Traditional live attenuated vaccines enable the immune system to develop a much more elaborate response, providing both a protective humoral & cellular immunity that simply cannot be induced with non-replicating spike protein- based vaccines. This is one of the reasons we’re seeing so many mutations in various lineages/variants converge onto this region of the virus—we’re putting massive selection pressure on the infectiousness (i.e., spike protein) of the virus through mass vaccinations.

Individuals suggesting that the danger of newly emerging “immune escape” variants arises specifically from infections amongst unvaccinated individuals are either misinformed or intentionally disingenuous. Certainly, increasing caseloads result in more opportunities for mutations to take place, however this is only half of the equation. The environment in which these mutations take place is the other half— it’s what drives the natural selection process of viral evolution (and evolution in general for that matter).

Mutations are constantly occurring during viral replication, however these variants only constitute a minor fraction of viral progeny. Once widespread external pressure is placed on this system and specific mutations arise that give an evolutionary advantage (e.g., increasing resistance to antibodies elicited from a vaccine), viral variants comprising such mutations will begin to outcompete the original virus—they’ll reproduce much more effectively within a population that is exerting massive immune selection pressure on the spike protein. As these numbers increase, the odds of transmitting a new variant to other individuals increases as well.

This is an over-simplification of a complex process involving many other variables, but hopefully it sheds some light on what’s driving the propagation of more infectious variants (a process that’s described in thorough detail by Vanden Bossche). The immense amount of selective pressure from an increasing number of vaccinated individuals (trained to have the same immune response) only further accelerates this process—especially in the face of high infectious pressure (the “perfect recipe” for immune escape variants to become dominant).

There are many papers published in various scientific journals describing this very real (inevitable?) threat of complete resistance to vaccine-derived antibodies, yet they’re only met with more fortitude amongst global health bodies to intensify mass vaccination in an attempt to “stay ahead of the virus”— I have yet to see a published refutation of this outcome in any medical journal. This becomes even more alarming with the CDC’s recent procedural changes analyzing breakthrough cases:

As of May 1, 2021, CDC transitioned from monitoring all reported vaccine breakthrough cases to focus on identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases due to any cause. This shift will help maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance. []

Genomic sequencing and surveillance of infections amongst both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals would provide invaluable data to investigate the evolutionary pathways of immune escape variants—why on earth would they stop collecting and publishing this data?

We’re likely already seeing this consequence in real-time with the rising prevalence and evolution of Delta and other variants— vaccine efficacy continues to drop, and the goalposts of “success” and the ever-elusive “herd immunity” continue to shift as the virus evolves to evade vaccine-elicited antibodies. In addition, younger age groups’ protective natural immunity has become increasingly eroded as a result of mounting infection rates. These outcomes were predicted with precision months ago by Vanden Bossche.

In a recent article authored by Robert Malone (virologist & inventor of the mRNA technology that’s been used to develop the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines), he states:

The essence of this arms race is this: The more people you vaccinate, the greater the number of vaccine-resistant mutations you are likely to get, the less durable the vaccines will become, ever more powerful vaccines will have to be developed, and individuals will be exposed to more and more risk.

Science tells us here that today’s vaccines, which use novel gene therapy technologies, generate powerful antigens that direct the immune system to attack specific components of the virus. Thus, when the virus infects a person with a “leaky” vaccination, the viral progeny will be selected to escape or resist the effects of the vaccine.

If the entire population has been trained via a universal vaccination strategy to have the same basic immune response, then once a viral escape mutant is selected, it will rapidly spread through the entire population— whether vaccinated or not.

A far more optimal strategy is to vaccinate only the most vulnerable. This will limit the amount of vaccine-resistant mutations and thereby slow, if not halt, the current vaccine arms race.

Not only is this “arms race” problematic due to our (in)ability to develop and deploy new vaccines/boosters in time to keep up with viral evolution, but it may not even be feasible due to antigenic sin. This phenomenon occurs when memory B-cells induced from a prior infection (or vaccination) are recalled upon exposure to a new strain or variant. This can suppress the adaptive immune system’s ability to develop new higher-affinity antibodies that would be significantly more effective at neutralizing the new viral variant(s).

With the above knowledge, you’d also understand the absolutely insanity of the current vaccine mandates being rolled out across the globe. The only sense derived from these policies is based upon the presumption that vaccines significantly limit infection and transmission of the disease. This is most undoubtedly not the case, especially in light of recent studies showing similar viral loads post-infection with the Delta variant in both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Immune Response To Natural Infection & Vaccine-Derived Immunity

I’m not entirely sure how the scientific community has managed to push the narrative that vaccine-derived immunity is superior to that produced by a recovery from natural infection of SARS-CoV-2, but they’ve been entirely successful in doing so. It seems the obsessive focus on antibody titres (concentrations within the blood) is the culprit.

Study after study amplified by the media refer specifically to antibody levels both in vitro and in vivo to determine the efficacy of an immune response, with zero regard for necessary (or optimal) levels. The motto seems to be “more is better, always.” Where did this idea come from?

The body is an amazing machine, and your B-cells do a wonderful job of producing optimal levels of antibodies to neutralize an infection — after all, vaccination science is based upon simulating natural exposure to a pathogen. Stating that our immune response following recovery from natural Covid-19 disease is inferior to that of vaccines because resulting antibodies levels are lower, however, is not based on science.

The immune response mounted to eliminate virus-infected cells also involves mechanisms other than antibodies alone.
Studies have been conducted on the antibody response of convalescent patients to examine their cross-neutralizing capabilities to various variants. The emerging data provides more evidence that the protection of antibodies elicited through previous infection provide better protection to variants than those elicited from vaccines.

Need more real-world data? Look at the current re-infection rate in Israel, where they account for approximately ~1% of current cases at the time of this writing. Compare this to the rate of breakthrough infections in inoculated individuals — the data speaks for itself. A recent study found a 27x increased risk for symptomatic breakthrough infection in vaccinated individuals compared to those with natural immunity.

Vaccine-Enhanced Disease & Antibody Dependent Enhancement

One of the major concerns during the development of vaccines was the risk of what’s known as antibody dependent enhancement (ADE). The phenomenon, while not fully understood, occurs when suboptimal antibodies bind to a virus, and instead of neutralizing the pathogen, can actually enhance its entry into the host’s cells and lead to more severe disease.
Past vaccine candidates developed for coronaviruses, RSV, and Dengue were halted because of this effect. Other failed efforts to develop SARS-CoV vaccine candidates in animal models resulted in adverse immunopathology that led to cautions for development and application within humans.

For SARS-CoV-2 specifically, several potential mechanisms were proposed that may lead to ADE.
In Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization Memorandum for an Unapproved Product on the FDA’s site, this risk was clearly laid out under a section titled “Vaccine-enhanced disease” on page 52 (buried as it may be):

Available data do not indicate a risk of vaccine-enhanced disease, and conversely suggest effectiveness against severe disease within the available follow-up period. However, risk of vaccine-enhanced disease over time, potentially associated with waning immunity, remains unknown and needs to be evaluated further in ongoing clinical trials and in observational studies that could be conducted following authorization and/or licensure.

Or, perhaps worded less eloquently, “we don’t really know, we just have to wait and see.” Ironically, the meme making rounds suggesting that those who trust the research don’t realize they are the research isn’t far from the truth.
While vaccine-elicited antibodies have shown strong to moderate neutralization capacity for the original virus and more infectious variants respectively, the continued mutation & evolution is resulting in decreasing binding affinity and trending towards eventual complete resistance (as described above).
When this happens, instead of neutralizing the virus, the antibodies can actually act as a “trojan horse” and result in more viral replication and severe disease.
Malone and Vanden Bossche are amongst many that have been sounding the alarm on this potential looming disaster. Were this to occur, it would wreak a devastating impact on those affected.


As the pandemic continues to unfold and the virus evolves, so do our efforts to understand the implications of mass vaccinations. Much of this is not based on hard science, but on an extrapolation of our understanding of virology, immunology, vaccinology & evolutionary biology. It’s imperative that we develop metrics for measuring the current strategy’s success (or failure) —simply moving the goalposts at each successive failure only makes the situation more precarious and reduces the ability to change course.
Rather than censor, it would be wise to listen to many of the silenced voices who are experts in their fields and are warning about the unfolding situation. While no one has a crystal ball, they’ve been accurate with many of their predictions — they deserve to be heard, and an open and transparent debate is vital to progress. Many of the unvaccinated aren’t holding out because of lack of access or cash prizes, but because they simply don’t trust “the science” as it’s being delivered — hidden, censored, and delivered by messengers that have been wrong countless times since the pandemic began (while continuously changing the narrative).
Unfortunately, as the vaccine trials have long since become unblinded, our collection of data has become severely hampered and in many respects we really are “flying blind.”



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[4] vaccine-is-creating-variants.html




[8] vaccination-campaigns-promote-dominance-of-selective-immune-escape- variants



[11] 39percent-effective-in-israel-prevents-severe-illness.html

[12] misguided-and-deadly-covid-19-vaccine-/


[14] astrazeneca-pfizer-shot-boosts-covid-antibody-level-study-2021-07-26/

[15] 200400346.html











[26] term-studies-of-covid-19-vaccines-hurt-by-placebo-recipients-getting-immuni





[31] ongoing-covid-19-mass-vaccination-campaigns

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Geert Vanden Bossche received his DVM from the University of Ghent, Belgium, and his PhD degree in Virology from the University of Hohenheim, Germany. He held adjunct faculty appointments at universities in Belgium and Germany. After his career in Academia, Geert joined several vaccine companies (GSK Biologicals, Novartis Vaccines, Solvay Biologicals) to serve various roles in vaccine R&D as well as in late vaccine development.

Geert then moved on to join the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Discovery team in Seattle (USA) as Senior Program Officer; he then worked with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) in Geneva as Senior Ebola Program Manager. At GAVI he tracked efforts to develop an Ebola vaccine. He also represented GAVI in fora with other partners, including WHO, to review progress on the fight against Ebola and to build plans for global pandemic preparedness.

Back in 2015, Geert scrutinized and questioned the safety of the Ebola vaccine that was used in ring vaccination trials conducted by WHO in Guinea. His critical scientific analysis and report on the data published by WHO in the Lancet in 2015 was sent to all international health and regulatory authorities involved in the Ebola vaccination program. After working for GAVI, Geert joined the German Center for Infection Research in Cologne as Head of the Vaccine Development Office. He is at present primarily serving as a Biotech / Vaccine consultant while also conducting his own research on Natural Killer cell-based vaccines.


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