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Commenting paper "Unifying the Epidemiological and Evolutionary Dynamics of Pathogens"

If you read this paper (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/303/5656/327.long), you’ll find that back in 2004(!) scientists had already provided key insights into how a pandemic/ epidemic can evolve, including the type of pandemic we’re currently facing. For your convenience, I’ve extracted some key take-home citations from this publication. Is this how we learn from peer-reviewed publications (?): Advising experts don’t lend credibility to scientific insights unless they’re published in peer-reviewed journals. But once published, they don’t seem to learn from those anyway. So, why would we re-invent the wheel to merely find out that those who’re insisting on peer review prefer to ignore ‘inconvenient’ science, even though published? The lady who kindly sent me the link is neither an expert in vaccinology, nor immunology nor virology. So, if she thought this paper to be relevant to the current pandemic, why don’t advising experts think likewise? Given the impact of the derailed pandemic on human lives and health, it’s time we teach the broader public because this is truly about their lives and health. That’s why we, independent scientists, first and foremost have a moral obligation to educate them on these matters. Peers pick it up anyway. But the other way around, the public is simply left with some mainstream narratives, light years away from the true science. Even though they may not understand the details of the science, the public may at least wonder why the solution to this complex problem is taught (not thought!) to be as simple as to intensify the mass vax campaigns.



Unifying the Epidemiological and Evolutionary Dynamics of Pathogens

(B.T. Grenfell et al., Science 303, Jan 2004),


Take-home citations:

  1. Some phylogenetic patterns are primarily affected by natural selection that arises from cross-immunity (i.e., the differential effect of immune responses on genetically variable strains).

  2. Modeling shows that epidemic cycles arise from repeated exhaustion of susceptible host numbers, driven by short incubation and infectious periods, combined with strong, lifelong immunity elicited by primary infection (1, 7, 8).

GVB Note: ‘Exhaustion of susceptible host numbers’ relates to ‘shortage’ of individuals with deficient or insufficient innate immunity

3. Primary infection or vaccination gives imperfect protection against other variants of the virus,

4. 3) Medium immune pressure and high adaptation—This is the point of fastest viral adaptation, as substantial immune selection coincides with appreciable virus replication.

GVB Note: Among the different scenarios described by the authors, this one [i.e., 3)] is the one that applies to the current pandemic

5. In addition, dynamics will be affected in experienced hosts by “original antigenic sin” (11), by which new antigenic variants induce a recall of antibodies against previous strains.


6. The humoral response rises by ~ day 6, underlining the idea that innate immunity, loss of susceptible cells, or other mechanisms play the major role in initially limiting infection (11).

7. The EIP shows a high potential for the transmission of selected viral variants, as substantial viral replication occurs during a time of substantial immune selection. EIP stands for the ‘Evolutionary Infectivity Profile’ , which is the net transmission rate of immunologically selected mutations and reflects the interaction between immune history and viral adaptation and abundance (34)

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