Vaccine escape and leaky vaccines may trigger an arms race that makes Covid more dangerous

Vaccine escape and leaky vaccines may trigger an arms race that makes Covid more dangerous. By Joanne Nova.

What if mass vaccination with imperfect vaccines could promote the survival of nastier strains of Covid? What if the leaky vaccines act like a filter for more dangerous versions of SARS2?

This doesn’t happen with most vaccines, only “leaky” ones. But it has happened in chickens with a virus called Marek’s disease.

Leaky vaccines generate a half-baked immune response — one that stops illness, but allows transmission, so a vaccinated person can theoretically infect others. This is bad but not awful — as long as the virus gets eliminated in a timely fashion. But if the virus can cloak itself from the immune system, and hide in protected cells, then it can keep replicating for a long time, and eventually, randomly, it will escape the imperfect immune response. Those mutants will be resistant to the antibodies or t-cell tricks. Thus newer strains of Covid may arise that are already pre-loaded with goodies to get around our immune system.

This is not how pandemics normally work

In most pandemics, after a few years, the nicer strains out-compete the nastier ones. Natural selection favours viruses that don’t kill or disable their human shedders. A sick body on the move is a more efficient spreader than someone flat out on their back in bed.

It takes two things to break that pattern. One is a leaky or imperfect vaccine. The other thing is that this virus appears to have the ability (like Marek’s disease) to cloak itself from our immune system and hide in protected cells.

This combination could make for a perfect storm, where vaccinated people feel OK, but viruses hidden away within keep sending out copies that test the half-baked immune response in a holding pattern until one lucky mutant virus escapes the net. The new variant is nastier and trickier than the last one and we need to redesign a new vaccine.

Repeat, rinse, recycle a few times and we might be breeding a virus that is more easily spread and has a higher mortality rate — especially for unvaccinated people.

This process is called immune escape, and once you know where to look, it seems virologists have been warning of it (and here, and here). But not necessarily expanding on just how bad it could be. They only mention that we might have to produce a new vaccine. (Gosh, darn, won’t Big Pharma be disappointed?) But there are reports of new “immune escape” variants, like the one in West Bengal.

Look at what happened to chickens and Marek disease:

Who knew? In the last six years it’s been confirmed and accepted that vaccines played a role in creating a much nastier and deadlier form of Marek disease in chickens (MDV).

Over the last 50 years, we’ve made vaccines that stop the chickens getting cancer and dying, but don’t stop them shedding virus and infecting other chickens. Unlike most viruses MDV can sit latent “for life” and slowly churn out copies while also suppressing the immune system. So each chicken becomes a kind of slow slot machine in a game of viral poker. The chickens immune system holds it at bay, but sooner or later, the virus finds an escape route around the immune system, becoming more infectious, more virulent, and effectively bypassing the current vaccine.

This process started in 1970 with the first vaccine which at the time stopped 99% of Marek’s disease. The disease originally had a low mortality but after 50 years, the MDV virus has become a kind of monster, and is considered to be 100% fatal to unvaccinated chickens. For a chicken, the odds are worse than Ebola. What have we done? …

The chicken industry has learned to live with Mareks disease. Unvaccinated chickens though, have not. And the industry loses $2b a year as well. Chicks are reared separately from mum and dad apparently, so they can survive long enough to get the vaccine and get protection before they risk catching the disease. Some people keep unvaccinated backyard flocks, but those chickens don’t go on holidays, or to weddings or funerals and rarely meet other chickens. None of this translates too well to homo sapiens. Dystopia 2025?

There an awful lot of obfuscation, bogus expert opinions, and name-calling going on with the vaccines, like with global warming. There are some genuine problems, and we’re not being told — Dominic Cummings spilled the beans in the UK context (see especially tweet 13).

As Joanne points out, there is potential for a massive self-inflicted disaster, that turns a mild pandemic into almost an existential threat.

Adrian adds, on another note, perhaps anticipating the response to a human version of Marek’s disease:

Is it tampering with my dna? Nope, not interested. I don’t care what people say, gene-therapy is not what I’m keen on and no one understands our DNA enough to say that it’s safe to do.