quotes and documents
1. Covid-19 vaccines can enhance fitness and transmission of more infectious SARS-CoV-2 variants
1A. Vaccine-mediated enhancement of selective immune escape and development of variants
- "Rolling out a partially effective vaccine regime in the peak of a highly prevalent viral epidemic is just not a great idea if one of your goals is to avoid vaccine resistance (...) There’s a chance, (...) that people waiting for their second dose may have a sub-optimal level of immunity that places selective pressure on the virus. If someone were to become infected during the interval between jabs, that pressure could allow for the emergence of a mutant version of SARS-CoV-2 able to shake off a person’s immune response — a so-called escape variant. Any such variant that also proved capable of causing severe disease could potentially spark a whole new, devastating wave of infections and deaths." Paul Bienasz, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute / Rockefeller University, New York, February 10, 2021.
- "Laut Physikerin Viola Priesemann (PhD, Max Planck Institut, Göttingen) könnten sich neue Coronavirus-Varianten bilden, die den Immunschutz durch eine Impfung umgehen können. Diese Escape-Varianten würden sich dort entwickeln, wo viele Menschen geimpft sind und gleichzeitig eine hohe Inzidenz herrsche. Im „schlimmsten Fall“ sei man gezwungen, mit den Impfungen wieder bei Null anzufangen." (According to Viola Priesemann, new Coronavirus variants capable of escaping vaccine-induced immune protection could develop. Such immune escape variants can particularly develop in places where many people are vaccinated on a background of a high incidence rate. In a worst case scenario, this would require to restart vaccinations from scratch.) - March 25, 2021 - RND /ARD.
- "Es entstehen natürlich auch Mutanten ohne Selektionsdruck. Die Selektion ist aber deutlich größer, wenn das Reservoir für das Virus austrocknet. In sofern hat Herr Vanden Bossche absolut recht.“ (Mutants also occur in the absence of selection pressure. However, selection pressure substantially increases if the reservoir for the virus is drying up. In this regard, Mr. Vanden Bossche is absolutely right.). Theo Dingermann, PhD, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, March, 2021 .
- Byran Bridle (PhD, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Canada): "Although Geert gets there by a slightly different route, we both end up at the same conclusion: that current design of the vaccines and the way they are being rolled out creates risk of the emergence of immunoevasive variants. (...) I can guarantee that he knows what he is talking about." - March 19, 2021.
- "But new findings from the British government's "New and Emerging Virus Threats Advisory Group" suggest that the variant first discovered in the UK might not just be up to 70 percent more contagious, but perhaps deadlier as well. There's not enough data to prove this yet, though. (...) When weak vaccines are used, however, or the second dose is delayed for too long, the vaccine has the exact opposite of the desired effect. That's what Pennsylvania State University virologist Andrew Read warns against. In 2001, his research with poultry viruses led him to the conclusion that low-efficacy vaccines could even promote the development of more dangerous virus strains. Deutsche Welle, January 26, 2021, https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-the-dangers-of-weak-vaccines/a-56339759
- “We can’t really put a number on it,” says Björn Meyer, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, referring to the risk of delayed dosing leading to the evolution of an escape variant. Every time the virus replicates there is a chance that it could mutate into a more transmissible or more deadly form. In a single individual, the odds of this happening are vanishingly small but the picture changes somewhat when you consider that tens of millions of people are currently waiting for their second dose." The Scientist, Feb. 4, 2021, https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/will-delaying-vaccine-doses-cause-a-coronavirus-escape-mutant--68424
1B. Reduced vaccine effectiveness and lack of protection from transmission of emerging, more infectious variants
- "If substantial immune evasion occurs, current vaccines are likely to still offer some benefit to individuals. At the population level, however, they could induce viral selection and escape. (...) This virological game changer has numerous consequences, not only for vaccines and treatment, but also for prevention and control strategies. The fervently awaited end of this global health crisis might be continually postponed, as new variants emerge and immune evasion reduces vaccination effectiveness in the short and medium term. (...)
We scientists working against COVID-19 must have the courage to address those in power, who bear ultimate responsibility for the policies chosen and their consequences. If this responsibility is shirked or delayed, the inevitable day of reckoning might be terrible."
Laetitia Atlani-Duault, Bruno Lina, Franck Chauvin, Jean-François Delfraissy, Denis Malvy, members of the French COVID-19 Scientific Council, in The Lancet, Feb. 18, 2021,
- "Immune-escape variants have raised concerns about the effectiveness of vaccines as the world scales up SARS-CoV-2 immunisation. (...) New variants, especially 501Y.V2 (B.1.351), which escape natural-induced and vaccine-induced immunity, have created uncertainty on whether the vaccines are effective in preventing both mild and severe COVID-19. The Lancet, Vaccines and SARS-CoV-2 variants: the urgent need for a correlate of protection, March 22, 2021, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00468-2/fulltext?fbclid=IwAR1K_tzlvBP4_yJ95jnpsj0yBxqjClZrcEQDemR5xMA64HopMZMmSV1JkKw
- "But now, they're also focusing on a potential new threat: variants that could do an end run around the human immune response. Such “immune escapes” could mean more people who have had COVID-19 remain susceptible to reinfection … - Science, Jan. 22, 2021, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/371/6527/329
- "The P1 variant is especially concerning because it contains a mutation that makes it both highly contagious and more resistant to the antibodies produced from vaccines and previous coronavirus infections. It has the potential to infect people who have been vaccinated and even reinfect people who have had COVID-19. (...) It is concerning because this is a variant that we’ve seen be very destructive in Brazil and there is concern about the effectiveness of vaccines." - The Vancouver Sun, 'Cases of vaccine-resistant variant more than doubles in B.C.' - March 28, 2021, https://vancouversun.com/news/covid-19-cases-of-vaccine-resistant-variant-more-than-doubles-in-b-c
- "Wächst die Gefahr von Virus-Mutanten in einer dritten Pandemiewelle? Davor hat auch Kanzleramtschef Helge Braun (CDU) gewarnt, nachdem sich SPD-Gesundheitspolitiker Karl Lauterbach ähnlich im Tagesspiegel-Interview geäußert hatte. „Wenn jetzt parallel zum Impfen die Infektionszahlen wieder rasant steigen, wächst die Gefahr, dass die nächste Virus-Mutation immun wird gegen den Impfstoff“, sagte Braun der „Bild am Sonntag“. Im Falle einer solchen Mutation „stünden wir wieder mit leeren Händen da“ (Will a third pandemic wave enhance circulation of viral mutants? This is what chancellory minister, Helga Braun (CDU), has been warning against after SPD health politician, Karl Lauterbach, expressed a similar concern in an interview with “Tagesspiegel”. If infectivity rates show a steep rise despite ongoing vaccination campaigns, there will be an increased risk that a new virus mutant resists the vaccine, as Braun told “Bild am Sonntag”. In case of a such mutation, we would be standing here empty-handed), Der Tagesspiegel, March 29, 2021, https://www.tagesspiegel.de/wissen/die-angst-vor-der-supermutante-was-wenn-kein-impfstoff-mehr-wirkt/27048992.html
- “Thus, faster-spreading SARS-CoV-2 variants acquired a partial resistance to neutralizing antibodies generated by natural infection or vaccination, which was most frequently detected in individuals with low antibody levels. Our results indicate that SARS-CoV-2 variants may increase the risk of infection in immunized individuals” - "In conclusion, our results demonstrate that suboptimal or declining antibody responses are associated with a loss of cross-reactivity against novel emerging viral strains." Nature Medicine, March 26, 2021, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-021-01318-5
“These data highlight the prospect of reinfection with antigenically distinct variants and foreshadows reduced efficacy of spike-based vaccines” - March 1, 2021, https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.18.427166v2.full.pdf
2. New, emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants may not only be more infectious but possibly also more lethal
- "Covid-19 cases have soared throughout Brazil in the past month and have been attributed to the spread of P.1, which is estimated to be 1.4-2.2 times more transmissible than previous variants. Growing evidence shows that young people are not only more likely to get infected with P.1 but also to die from it, some experts have warned. (...) Yet the increase is higher in regions where P.1 is more prevalent, suggesting that it is not only more transmissible but also more lethal. (...) P.1 appears to be more lethal among young men and women than the original strain.” British Medical Journal, April 1, 2021, https://www.bmj.com/content/373/bmj.n879
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