Are vaccines fueling new Covid variants?

Are vaccines fueling new Covid variants? By Allysia Finley, in the Wall Street Journal. Vaccine woes are finally making it to the MSM. Not the front page yet, but it’s started.

First, some potentially bad news about the new virus ecosystem the vaccine has created:

Public-health experts are sounding the alarm about a new Omicron variant dubbed XBB that is rapidly spreading across the Northeast US. Some studies suggest it is as different from the original Covid strain from Wuhan as the 2003 SARS virus. Should Americans be worried? It isn’t clear that XBB is any more lethal than other variants, but its mutations enable it to evade antibodies from prior infection and vaccines as well as existing monoclonal antibody treatments.

Growing evidence also suggests that repeated vaccinations may make people more susceptible to XBB and could be fuelling the virus’s rapid evolution.

Under selective evolutionary pressures, the virus appears to have developed mutations that enable it to transmit more easily and escape antibodies elicited by vaccines and prior infection.

XBB has evolved to elude antibodies induced by the vaccines and breakthrough infections. Hence, the Nature study suggests, “current herd immunity and BA. 5 vaccine boosters may not efficiently prevent the infection of Omicron convergent variants.” …

Vaccines provide little protection now:

A New England Journal of Medicine study published last month provides more evidence of the vulnerability caused by immune imprinting. Neutralising antibodies of people who had received the bivalent were 26 times as high against the original Wuhan variant as they were against XBB and four times as high as they were against Omicron and the BA. 5 variant.

Similarly, a study this month in the journal Cell found that antibody levels of people who had received four shots were 145 times as high against the original Wuhan strain as the XBB variant. A bivalent booster only slightly increased antibodies against XBB. Experts nevertheless claim that boosters improve protection against XBB. That’s disinformation, to use their favoured term.

And buried well down the article is the counter-narrative information we’ve long been posting on the WR:

A Cleveland Clinic study that tracked its healthcare workers found that … workers who had received more doses were at higher risk of getting sick. Those who received three more doses were 3.4 times as likely to get infected as the unvaccinated, while those who received two were only 2.6 times as likely.

“This is not the only study to find a possible association with more prior vaccine doses and higher risk of COVID-19,” the authors noted. “We still have a lot to learn about protection from COVID-19 vaccination, and in addition to a vaccine’s effectiveness it is important to examine whether multiple vaccine doses given over time may not be having the beneficial effect that is generally assumed.”

Two years ago, vaccines were helpful in reducing severe illness, particularly among the elderly and those with health risks like diabetes and obesity. But experts refuse to concede that boosters have yielded diminishing benefits and may even have made individuals and the population as a whole more vulnerable to new variants like XBB.

Really. My shocked face is getting a workout.

hat-tip Stephen Neil