November 19, 2022

VSS Scientific Updates During Pandemic Times #45

1. U.S. Flu Hospitalizations Highest in 10 years, Officials Say

An early fall spike in influenza cases has pushed U.S. hospitalization rates for the illness to the highest in a decade for this time of year, U.S. health officials said on Friday, noting that vaccination rates are down.”

2. Would a Mucosal Covid-19 Vaccine Have Been More Effective? Geert Responds

From Geert: I would like to comment on the following section: 

The Covid-19 vaccines have not delivered in terms of preventing infection and transmission. These products clearly do not prevent transmission. They should never have been expected to, by virtue of their mechanism of action (i.e. the creation of blood-borne antibodies, when - as with other respiratory viruses - the primary immune defenses reside in the mucous membranes lining the upper respiratory tract and lungs).”

With this statement you are suggesting that mucosal C-19 vaccines may do the job. This is not correct. There is no evidence whatsoever that mucosal vaccines would prevent immune escape when administered during a pandemic. There is no evidence either that any (experimental) mucosal vaccine works better than the same vaccine administered intramuscularly or subcutaneously (even for pathogens entering via mucosal membranes). That’s why the spectrum of commercialized mucosal vaccines is scarce. It’s not because a respiratory pathogen invades the body via the mucosa that mucosal vaccine administration is more efficacious. It’s also a complete misunderstanding that systemic antibodies do not reach the mucosa (they actually do via transudation). In addition, to maintain high titers of neutralizing IgA, regular booster doses (every 3-4 months) are required. But even then, one will not avoid immune escape when these vaccines are used during a pandemic. 

I am reacting to this statement as it provides grist to the mill of those who remain convinced that we can vaccinate ourselves out of the pandemic. The real reason as to why C-19 vaccines cannot prevent infection or transmission is because they don’t induce sterilizing immunity. Vaccine-induced Abs cannot sterilize the virus when the immune system gets already exposed to the virus while it is still in the process of mounting an antibody (Ab) response. It takes time for these Abs to become fully functional (neutralizing capacity) and reach a high enough concentration to neutralize the virus. As long as the humoral response is insufficient/ immature, the Abs exert suboptimal immune pressure on viral infectiousness. This will lead to natural selection and dominant propagation of more infectious variants. This increases viral infectivity and promotes viral transmission instead of reducing it. I understand that PANDA is not a science-oriented organization but that should not be an excuse to make statements that are scientifically incorrect. Those may be easier for the public to understand but eventually lead to confusion and may even encourage another bunch of nonsensical initiatives.

3. Antibody Responses to Omicron BA.4/BA.5 Bivalent mRNA Vaccine Booster Shot – Preprint

“At ~3-5 weeks post booster shot, individuals who received a fourth vaccine dose with a bivalent mRNA vaccine targeting BA.4/BA.5 had similar neutralizing antibody titers as those receiving a fourth monovalent mRNA vaccine against all SARS-CoV-2 variants tested, including BA.4/BA.5. Those who received a fourth monovalent vaccine dose had a slightly higher neutralizing antibody titers than those who received the bivalent vaccine against three related sarbecoviruses: SARS-CoV, GD-Pangolin, and WIV1. When given as a fourth dose, a bivalent mRNA vaccine targeting Omicron BA.4/BA.5 and an ancestral SARS-CoV-2 strain did not induce superior neutralizing antibody responses in humans, at the time period tested, compared to the original monovalent vaccine formulation.”

4. Recipe for Disaster: Combining COVID-19 BA4/5 and Influenza mRNA

“mRNA coding for influenza would be a new biological product not under EUA so should have to go through the full 5-year regulatory development cycle for genetic biologicals.  It looks like the vaccine companies are trying the shortcut this development cycle by combining the non-emergency flu shot with the EUA COVID-19 vaccine.”

5. 1 in every 310 people died within 1.5 months of receiving the COVID Vaccine Booster*

*Note: We did not include a previous article from The Expose after reading some comments on that article which suggested that the author was cherry picking the data and leaving out relevant information. With this article, the same commenter has these comments:

"Sorry to repeat myself but you are again cherrypicking the data. Not only did you pick mortality during winter months but you did not specify how many elderly were among the total deaths for that period and did not specify that those are the most likely third dose vaccinated people.
With above perspective in mind the 62.801 deaths out of a skewed total of just under 20million most fragile people during 48 days in wintertime is not indisputable evidence of anything.
By the way your use of logarithmic scale might also be considered slightly biased to hide the disproportionate mortality between age groups…."

It's not to say the author is wrong, but that further analysis is needed. The correlation is still there, which warrants attention.

6. COVID Booster May Lower Protection Against Omicron Reinfection, Study Finds

“A COVID-19 booster, specifically a third vaccine dose, may lower protection against getting infected with the omicron variant again for some people — and there’s a reason why, new findings suggest.”

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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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