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Geert Vanden Bossche was mocked as an anti-vaxxer. But, were his predictions accurate?
Geert had warned us about the nature of this vaccination strategy. Some of his fears have come true. But if his assumptions were correct, what does that mean about these vaccines now?
Who is Geert Vanden Bossche?
Geert Vanden Bossche made his first splash onto the digital media stage by publishing a letter on LinkedIn, addressed to the WHO et al. In this letter, GVB outlined his concerns regarding a mass vaccination campaign in the midst of a pandemic. This letter was dated March 6, 2021 - a few months after the vaccines were made available.
As you can imagine, the censors swiftly took action. Fact-checkers voiced their opinions. And of course, “experts” denounced him as an anti-vaxxer. Oh, my!
This could not be further from the truth.
GVB the ‘anti-vaxxer’
Geert received his veterinary degree (DVM) in Belgium. Then, he obtained a PhD in virology in Germany. After leaving academia, GVB worked for several companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis. His role? Vaccine research and development.
If that were not enough, GVB then joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Discovery team as a Senior Program Officer. He worked with GAVI (another Gates funded vaccine group) as a Senior Ebola Program Manager, and tracked efforts in development of an Ebola vaccine.
After that, GVB joined the German Center for Infection Research as Head of the Vaccine Development Office.
Clearly, GVB is an anti-vaxxer. Clearly, he has no expertise in vaccine development, distribution, and monitoring.
What did GVB warn us about?
Now that we have established what an anti-vaxxer GVB is, let's discuss his warnings.
I hope this is not too simplistic, but GVB’s fundamental concern is that in the setting of an active pandemic, mass vaccination would exert an evolutionary selection pressure such that the virus would select for mutations to avoid the antibodies generated from the vaccine.
In doing so, it would leave an otherwise unaware population defenseless.
Let’s look at some of his concerns, straight from the letter:
Highly specific, but suboptimally mature antibodies are what the current vaccines produce.
In the setting of a pandemic (high transmission), suboptimal antibodies provide a selection pressure which enables the virus to escape immunity by only having to mutate the target of the antibody (Spike protein, in this case).
As selected mutations endow more transmissibility, it now becomes easier for the virus to cause severe disease in the population.
A steadily increasing number of subjects will become more susceptible to getting severe disease instead of showing mild symptoms.
Especially youngsters will be affected by this evolution.
There can be no doubt that lack of exposure due to stringent containment measures has not been beneficial to keeping people’s innate immunity well trained
At some point, in a likely near future, it’s going to become more profitable for the virus to add another few mutations to the Spike protein
This will now allow the new variant to outcompete vaccinal antibodies
Basically, we’ll very soon be confronted with a super-infectious virus that completely resists our vaccine-induced immunity.
This was written in March 2021, remember?
Any of these predictions starting to sound familiar?
#2 came true. Twice. First with Delta, then even more so with Omicron. It is highly likely that the vaccine drove Delta into dominance in populations with high vaccine uptake. The same process led to Omicron dominance.
#3, & 4 both predict Delta.
#5 was also heavily reported mid-to-late 2021.
#6 is not really a prediction, as this phenomenon has been observed with several vaccination strategies. And, it’s basic immunology. But it came true.
#7 & 8 predicted Omicron.
What did GVB get wrong?
Well, as it turns out he was right about a lot. Fortunately, he was wrong about one important prediction. The virus did not get more deadly. Despite what some may think about Delta, infection-fatality rates have been declining for over a year and have long diverged from case-positive rates.
The original prediction by the sane biologists was right: as viruses become more endemic, and continue to mutate, they select for transmissibility not severity.
Why is this? Well, the life cycle of a virus is to replicate in the host…and move on to the next cell. If SARS-CoV-2 got more deadly…it would select itself out of existence. The hosts would die faster, giving it less time to infect other hosts.
Are single-antigen vaccines destined for failure?
To answer this question, join me on this mental experiment.
Imagine that a virus is a 4-dimensional object. What you are seeing above is a 2D representation of a 3D physical object, in 4D space-time.
The first 3 dimensions relate to physical space - seen from the outside as the envelope. The envelope (red sphere above) has antigens of its own. Then, you add proteins on top of the envelope, these are also important antigens. Spike protein is one such antigen (red proteins above). For any virus there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different surface antigens. Our immune system generates a variety of antibodies for any given pathogen. This is why natural immunity is destined to be superior to vaccination. With respect to generating antibodies, antigens can even overlap, such that a single antibody can have binding domains to fragments of antigens, if they are close in proximity.
Now imagine, that a viruses exterior surface composition also varies by a fourth dimension. It is not time, but it changes with time. It is the virus’ external environment. Different environments that a virus inhabits may results in changes of its surface composition merely by interaction. For example, an environment with a different pH. Or in the presence of another antigen that cross-reacts with generated antibodies. This would reduce the number of available antibodies which can bind to the virus.
For the purposes of blocking transmission, this is a crucial component of immunity. Antibodies covering the virus to such a degree that you reduce the likelihood of its surface protein binding to the target receptor (ACE-2 receptor for CoV-2) and invade the cell.
So then, it stands to reason that the best vaccines would be the ones with the most impactful variety of antigens such as to maximize the likelihood of sterilization with the generated antibodies - i.e. blocking transmission.
Unfortunately, it also means that a single-antigen vaccine is the least likely to reduce transmission.
One antigen → One antibody type.
What did we do with COVID vaccines? Well, we forced everyone to accept a single-antigen vaccine. Antibodies only to Spike protein.
Even though it is propreitary information, we have confirmed it by sequencing the nucleotides in the vials. As it turns out, the available vaccines in North America are most likely single-antigen.
Is it so bad to only vaccinate against Spike protein?
Early on most of the damage done by the virus was due to the Spike protein. So we based our vaccines on this single protein, even though every virus has dozens if not hundreds of different antigens, for which a whole variety of antibodies can be generated.
This is what happens with natural infection. It’s important for your immune system to know the largest array of antigens a pathogen contains - for optimal protection.
Now you might make the argument that because the Spike protein facilitates viral entry, that the best possible way to reduce transmission from a single-antigen approach would be designing a vaccine which leads to the generation of antibodies against Spike protein.
Ok. Sure. However, the question is not if Spike protein is the best vaccine target.
The real question is: why only Spike protein? Why not all the other antigens coronaviruses contain?
Single-antigen strategy was the path to GVB’s predictions - except for one, disease severity
Unfortunately, this vaccination strategy did not result in blocked transmission. The vaccines reduced disease severity, which everyone keeps pointing to:
“reduces severe disease, hospitalization, death”
Fine, let’s grant them that. But once you realize it doesn’t block transmission…using it as a community shield is idiotic. You merely present a road-bump for the virus…and now the virus knows exactly what it needs to mutate…the Spike protein, and it can evade vaccine-induced immunity entirely. This is exactly what GVB warned about.
What became the dominant variant after the vaccines were introduced? Delta. What did we do? More vaccines.
Then came the next escape variant - Omicron.
As we are now seeing with Omicron, the vaccines are in the negative efficacy - according to surveillance data from Denmark and Ontario (Canada). More jurisdictions join this list every week.
But what are we trying to force on the population now? Boosters - based on the original vaccine! Now an Omicron-specific vaccine is expected.
By the time spring rolls around, everyone will have been infected. There will be no need for the Omicron vaccine.
But will they again, force us to take it? That’s up to you.
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