Globe & Mail: Vaccines are a tool, not a silver bullet

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Wm. Stewart

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Jan 22, 2022, 1:52:44 PMJan 22
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This is an important article, in summary saying that scientists are human, and seem to have given in to a tendency to declare a certainty about the ability of vaccinations to end this pandemic that is not supported by the data.  For Canada's national newspaper, a huge vaccine supporter, to give this article a high profile in it's Saturday edition indicates that there is a fundamental rethinking going on.  As myself a huge vaccine supporter, I believe this is exactly what scientists must always do: open mindedly consider that they can be wrong, and update their thinking however the data indicate.  This article provides a great deal of food for thought:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-vaccines-are-a-tool-not-a-silver-bullet-if-wed-allowed-more-scientific/

Towards the end, the article also refers to the concern communicated in my last email to this group, about "original antigenic sin":

Then on Jan. 1, 2022, a study of vaccine effectiveness against getting infection in Ontario – not yet peer-reviewed – showed a trend that had already shown up in Denmark. ... The first was that “VE [vaccine effectiveness against getting infection] against Omicron was only 37% > 7 days following a third dose.” ... The second finding was more dramatic: “We also observed negative VE against Omicron among those who had received 2 doses compared to unvaccinated individuals.” Translation: Negative VE means that the vaccinated got more infections than the unvaccinated.

That “negative finding” they noted, had already been observed elsewhere. “In the Danish study, there was no significant protection against Omicron infection beyond 31 days” after the second dose of the Pfizer. The Danes also found significant negative VE estimates 91-150 days after the second dose.” The Danish study showed those vaccinated with the Pfizer had a 76.5 per cent greater chance of getting infected than unvaccinated people. With the Moderna, the vaccinated had a 36.7 per cent greater chance of getting infected than the unvaccinated after 90 days....

Another possible explanation the authors raise is “the possibility that antigenic imprinting could impact the immune response to Omicron.” It had been observed in the past that the immune system is highly influenced by the first exposure to a microbe (antigen) that it encounters. It’s called “original antigenic sin.” When a second exposure occurs, to a similar but not identical microbe, the immune system reacts as though it is targeting the original microbe. But the new invader isn’t the original, and so the immune system is actually less effective in dealing with this. In essence the immune system is weakened for a microbe too similar to its first similar exposure. This phenomenon was originally described as occurring in influenza on occasion. This is only a theoretical possibility here, not proven for COVID, but now a matter of scientific discussion. The negative vaccine efficacy has since shown up in Iceland, and the U.K. as well. 

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Shin jie Yong

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Jan 28, 2022, 8:46:36 AMJan 28
to Wm. Stewart, mrnadiscuss
Thank you for the information, Dr. Stewart. 

I've also heard of the negative vaccine effectiveness, and I had been writing an article about it. The article was published just three days ago on Medium here: https://medium.com/microbial-instincts/negative-vaccine-effectiveness-against-omicron-it-can-happen-but-not-always-bc101c242c51?sk=dae5004181c5f540afd4d03bc235d586

The conclusion I came up with is that behavioral differences between the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups likely explain the negative vaccine effectiveness (VE).
If the original antigenic sin (OAS) is the culprit, I think we would see negative VE everywhere, not just in two studies out of the ten studies I summarized in the Medium article. 

Moreover, the editorial team of the Canada's national newspaper has added an addendum to the vaccine article:

"Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article included a reference to a non peer-reviewed study authored by members of Public Health Ontario, ICES, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, UHN, and other major Ontario university and health programs. The reference has been removed. The Ontario study’s lead author Dr. Jeff Kwong told CBC News prior to publication of the Opinion piece that the results are being updated with additional data that showed different results. “We’re in the process of adding two more weeks of data and it looks like there’s no more negative VE (vaccine effectiveness). Our results are now more in line with the data from the U.K. where it’s lower, for sure, compared to Delta, but never getting to negative…and then higher VE with the boost,” he said. The Globe and Mail was not aware of Dr. Kwong’s interview at the time."

That said, I understand that the OAS could still happen in the future. In fact, I've also written about the OAS here: https://coronavirus.medium.com/why-vaccine-boosters-may-not-solve-the-mutating-coronavirus-problem-f35fd6fdbfc1?sk=de7a78b0af2c48e3b8540f271f374d83. But I think the OAS hasn't happened with Omicron, given that boosters (with outdated Covid-19 vaccines) still work reasonably well (evidence presented in the link above), although for how long, I'm not sure. 

Kind regards,
Shin

P.S. I'm going to write about the all-cause mortality differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated groups next, since I've heard of some arguments arguing that there is no net survival rate benefit from the vaccines, possibly suggesting that the vaccine could save lives from Covid but also take lives from rare adverse events too. I doubt this is true, but I haven't looked at the evidence in-depth yet. So, I would appreciate any insights on this topic. 

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Wm. Stewart

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Jan 28, 2022, 8:49:34 AMJan 28
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Thanks Shin, excellent information and analysis.  I and many others really appreciate it.

Cheers,
Bill

Wm. Stewart

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Jan 30, 2022, 2:18:34 PMJan 30
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A follow-up article with a good response to the one I posted originally:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-we-should-debate-the-best-covid-treatments-but-lets-eschew-revisionist/

A key extract: "the latest real-world data from Ontario show that, for those with two doses of vaccines, the risks of being hospitalized or entering an intensive care unit are reduced by more than 80 per cent and 90 per cent, respectively. There is even stronger protection with three doses."

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