On Immunity, Vaccines and Lockdown

Debating vaccines is a part of the role and interest of those working in the arena of infectious disease. When a new vaccine appears it is never merely administered to everyone. Vaccines are recommended based on an array of considerations such as safety, efficacy, cost of disease/vaccine against benefit of vaccine/disease, who is high risk against who is not, where you draw the line between “vaccine recommended” and “vaccine not recommended”, and many other factors. These discussions are always informative and thought provoking. Today however, if you draw breath to gather your thoughts on Covid vaccines, you’re likely to be labelled “anti-vax” before you even make an utterance.

There are possible safety concerns with the Covid vaccines being rolled out at high speed today. They may be unwarranted. They deserve to be excluded based on data and evidence. This podcast by Dan Astin touches on the topic well.

John Ioannidis is probably the world’s most cited Infectious Disease Epidemiologist. For those with less time or inclination, this ten minute outline of his team’s serology study findings is worth a quick listen. This work, concluding an overall Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of 0.2% but with a steep age gradient, indicating that appropriate protection of vulnerable groups could drive the IFR even lower, ultimately informed World Health Organisation as published here. Not before he was viciously attacked, including character assassinations in various publications and even phone calls to his elderly mother living alone, from anonymous strangers expressing sympathies that her son had died from Covid. Longer interviews are also available, he is a charming genius with a great sense of humour.

This series of tweets from an anonymous but obviously well informed contributor gives an accessible description of the layers of detail relating to vaccines, immunity and lockdowns:

There’s a lot of fear mongering about how vaccines may not be protective against future strains. While this is hypothetically true, we need to put things into perspective.

First off you need to know that viruses have multiple “epitopes”. These are antigen binding sites.

Your immune system learns to fight a virus by identifying these binding sites and producing antibodies and T-Cells capable of recognizing these sites.

An important principle is that the more epitopes of a virus your immune system can recognize, the more immunity you have. This also explains the wide variability in people’s susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2.

The problem with vaccines is that they stimulate immunity to one epitope, usually located somewhere in the Spike Protein. This works very well in the short term.

But a mutation in the epitope that the vaccine targeted could nullify your immune system’s recognition of that site thereby making you susceptible. So getting vaccinated is nowhere near as protective as actually getting Covid-19. When exposed to the whole virus, your immune system develops a response to multiple epitopes.

So here’s the good news. “Immunity” does not protect you against infection, it protects you from disease; asymptomatic infections are this phenomenon. You have sufficient immunity to not progress to disease but a small infection can be detected by PCR testing.

So if you’ve been vaccinated, the best thing that can happen is to be exposed to the real virus. Being asymptomatically infected after vaccination is ideal.

Also, different vaccines target different epitopes. It may be that getting multiple different vaccines can provide the multi-epitope immunity which is protective long term. What I absolutely reject is the idea that we will be worrying about Covid-19 forever.

The flu is the only virus (btw, the 1918 Spanish Flu is still circulating) that has required yearly vaccination. Common coronaviruses have all become the endemic “common cold”. In fact coronaviruses kill many weak old people, but we don’t test so we don’t know. But there are studies that show that common coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes can be very deadly.

I think that the people who have pre-existing Immunity to Covid have been previously infected with common coronaviruses that share epitopes with Covid-19.

We live in harmony with all kinds of viruses. We continuously spread these viruses to each other our entire lives. Most often these infections are asymptomatic. Each time we get infected it’s like a booster shot. But when you’re not exposed to a particular virus for a longer period of time and if you’re old then the virus might be dangerous. It’s possible that you had effective immunity to many viruses a year ago, but today it’s gone.

Lockdowns are a sinister social medical experiment.

Circulation of viruses is how we’ve managed to make the Spanish Flu endemic. Also coronaviruses overwhelmingly circulate in children. How are lockdowns affecting their immunological development? There are so many unknowns, but an equal amount of arrogant experts.

We live in harmony with viruses and they’re usually reasonably benign. Once in a while a bad one emerges and kills more than usual, but eventually becomes endemic. This is what history says.

Locking down the planet for 1+ year? Never been done and potentially quite dangerous.

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