Dr Anthony Fauci, for a long time the man in charge of the US response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, has now admitted that vaccines have failed to stop the spread of the disease and were never likely to.
Dr Fauci on Vaccinating against Respiratory Viruses
For a long time, I’ve held that vaccines are effective at helping individuals protect themselves from diseases caused by respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2 and influenza. But I’ve also said, at least since mid-2020, that they are not effective, and never have been, in stopping the spread of these diseases. Not to mention of eradicating them. Whenever I’ve said things like this, I’ve been attacked relentlessly and even, in some cases, censored.
Interestingly, in a new peer-reviewed paper in a prestigious journal, Dr Anthony S. Fauci, MD, agrees with my assessment wholeheartedly:
→ Rethinking next-generation vaccines for coronaviruses, influenzaviruses, and other respiratory viruses, Cell Host & Microbe, Morens, Fauci et al.
In a review of the current scientific consensus on these kinds of vaccines, Fauci – who was the chief medical advisor to the US President from the start of 2021 to the end of 2022 and led most of the US response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic – comes to the following conclusion:
Past unsuccessful attempts to elicit solid protection against mucosal respiratory viruses and to control the deadly outbreaks and pandemics they cause have been a scientific and public health failure that must be urgently addressed.
Adding what can be translated, roughly, as: “We really fucked this one, Fauci out.”
We are excited and invigorated that many investigators and collaborative groups are rethinking, from the ground up, all of our past assumptions and approaches to preventing important respiratory viral diseases and working to find bold new paths forward.
Influenza Vaccines Were Always “Suboptimal”
In their review, Fauci and his colleagues explain the decades-long failures of influenza vaccines.
Surprisingly, little has changed with influenza vaccines since 1957 when they were first administered in US national vaccination programs. Over the years, influenza vaccines have never been able to elicit durable protective immunity against seasonal influenza virus strains, even against non-drifted strains. Although current influenza vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death to some degree, their effectiveness against clinically apparent infection is decidedly suboptimal, ranging from 14% to 60% over the past 15 influenza seasons. Furthermore, the duration of vaccine-elicited immunity is measured only in months.
As of 2022, after more than 60 years of experience with influenza vaccines, very little improvement in vaccine prevention of infection has been noted. As pointed out decades ago, and still true today, the rates of effectiveness of our best approved influenza vaccines would be inadequate for licensure for most other vaccine-preventable diseases.
There Was No Reason to Believe SARS-CoV-2 Would Be Different
The same problem became apparent with SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rapid development and deployment of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines has saved innumerable lives and helped to achieve early partial pandemic control. However, as variant SARS-CoV-2 strains have emerged, deficiencies in these vaccines reminiscent of influenza vaccines have become apparent. The vaccines for these two very different viruses have common characteristics: they elicit incomplete and short-lived protection against evolving virus variants that escape population immunity.
More than 50 years ago, the development of successful vaccines against some of the most important respiratory viruses, including measles, mumps, and rubella, led to the hope that vaccines could soon be developed for all other respiratory viruses. However, natural infections with these three vaccine-controlled respiratory viruses, as well as smallpox and varicella zoster virus (VZV), are not representative of infections caused by most respiratory viruses.
I guess, this is also where the mistaken belief that we could eradicate all kinds of diseases comes from. When, in fact, only one disease in humans has ever been eradicated.
SARS-CoV-2, while radically different from influenza, turns out to have more in common with that disease than many people thought.
Non-systemically replicating respiratory viruses, apparently including SARS-CoV-2, tend to repeatedly re-infect people over their lifetimes without ever eliciting complete and durable protection.
The external influenza A virus hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins are comparatively plastic, and positively selected nonsynonymous mutations result in immunologically significant antigenic drift. The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein has shown a similar plasticity, with the emergence of multiple variants with altered antigenicity that has complicated its control through current vaccination strategies.
Taking all of these factors into account, it is not surprising that none of the predominantly mucosal respiratory viruses have ever been effectively controlled by vaccines. This observation raises a question of fundamental importance: if natural mucosal respiratory virus infections do not elicit complete and long-term protective immunity against reinfection, how can we expect vaccines, especially systemically administered non-replicating vaccines, to do so?
With other words: Thinking that the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines would help significantly curtail the spread of the disease was never backed by scientific evidence. It was, I guess, wishful thinking. And you should never base a crisis plan on that.
Why Don’t These Vaccines Cause Lasting Immunity?
It seems that vaccines against these kinds of respiratory viruses do not cause lasting immunity, because our immune system is not set up for this. These viruses are just not deadly enough. So our immune system has struck a “Faustian bargain” to deal with them differently than with more deadly diseases.
The terms “disease tolerance” and “immune tolerance” refer to the still-incompletely characterized but distinct category of mammalian immune defense mechanisms that allow hosts to “accept” infection and other antigenic stimuli to optimize survival.
From the teleological point of view of the pathogen, mucosally replicating/non-systemic respiratory viruses have adapted over millennia to tolerized host immune environments to optimally infect, replicate, and spread quickly, before adaptive immune responses can be fully marshaled to control them.
The immunologic “Faustian bargain” between tolerance versus infection control, which permits transient, moderated infection by respiratory agents of low or intermediate pathogenicity to restrain the destructive forces of an immune elimination response, may be problematic for vaccine control of respiratory viruses, not only in the local and systemic sensing of vaccine antigens but also in eliciting optimal immune responses.
Unlike what many of my colleagues in the corporate media are often implying, all vaccines aren’t created equal.
[Some vaccines] only prevent severe disease (e.g., requiring hospitalization), as appears to be the case with some influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.
As far as Fauci and his colleagues at the NIAID are concerned, these vaccines could be a lot better.
With influenza, for example, vaccines historically have been designed to prevent upper respiratory infection, not secondary pulmonary infection associated with spread from the upper respiratory tract. This has proved problematic because current influenza vaccines are suboptimal at both preventing infection and eliciting pulmonary immunity. Although influenza and SARS-CoV-2 vaccines reduce disease severity when vaccines fail to prevent infection, significant numbers of fatalities still occur, resulting in tens of thousands of annual influenza deaths in the United States. With the imperfections of these vaccines, it seems a public health imperative to aggressively pursue better vaccines and vaccination strategies.
Durably protective vaccines against non-systemic mucosal respiratory viruses with high mortality rates have thus far eluded vaccine development efforts.
Another conclusion from this review of the current scientific consensus is the implication that immunity passports, and societal rules based on them, will probably not be a workable concept in the future.
A key challenge for next-generation vaccines is determining if one-size-fits-all vaccines or vaccines targeted to key risk groups will be useful.
The Wider Implications of This Admission
What does that mean in the grand scope of things? It means that we were mislead by politicians and the press. It seems obvious that, from the start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, immunologists had no reason to believe that this specific mucosal respiratory virus was going to behave different than other viruses of its kind. Which would lead to the conclusion that it was highly unlikely that we would develop a highly effective vaccine for more than one infection season and pretty much impossible to eradicate COVID (the disease caused by the virus) through mass vaccination of the populace. It has never worked for comparable viruses in the past, what gave people the idea that it would this time? Other than blind, dogmatic hope, that is?
And you didn’t even have to be an expert in the field to come to this conclusion. I did. One or two weeks into the whole situation, too.
While vaccines work and are important to have as an optional protection, especially for vulnerable individuals, governments around the world and the press vastly over-estimated their usefulness – a grave disservice to the public. If we hadn’t made this mistake, we could have concentrated on reforming our medical systems. Something that would have served us much better in fighting this pandemic – and all of the coming ones, too. But instead of concentrating on turning our medical systems from a multi-billion-dollar industry into institutions that serve the public good first and foremost, we continued thinking about the bottom line and gave billions upon billions to the same old medical companies.
Fauci was one of the leading figures in this misguided push for vaccines, masks and social control instead of medical reform. And now, as a last parting gift, he tells us that, apparently like many other experts who didn’t speak out about it, he knew all along that we were on the wrong path.
I am really torn between being glad that I’ve been vindicated by such a high profile figure and being extremely angry about the fucking cheek on this man.
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On the forum, Evgeny made a joke:
It suddenly struck me that I never realized how TPC was actually obvious, blatant and very aggressive propaganda of critical thinking… I think I’ll keep listening, though. You do some great journalism, and I don’t mind critical thinking too much.
Which I guess isn’t too wrong. Except that propaganda is always driven by powerful interests of some way or another. And I kind of feel like critical thinking might be the ultimate anti-propaganda, because, if anything, it mostly hurts powerful interests and defeats propaganda. Mostly. If it works.
Fadi did not get the joke. And he replied:
I believe that we, as humans, are prone to “group think”, to just take things as they are, and not to think too deeply. In other cases, it might not be feasible that you go down to all the details, so you use some kind of shortcut to come up with a conclusion: If everybody thinks it’s OK, then it’s probably OK!
But still, I feel that we should be aware when we start to fall into just accepting things as they are, without giving them a second thought. So it might be needed sometimes to get reminded to think critically, and thanks to Fab for the constant reminders!
In reply, Evgeny made another good point:
In the episode, Fab mentions that, in his opinion, a journalist ultimately serves for the good of society. Since “the good of society” can be defined differently depending on who’s defining, a journalist must necessarily act based on his/her views in this regard, and promote the corresponding agenda (which is the only way to change the society, and change it must to become better). Fab’s agenda in this regard seems to be, among other things, critical thinking, and the need to expand it within and throughout the society. Funnily, using (mass) media to promote agenda (however noble) is the very definition of propaganda that Fab is so critical of.
I’ve been a listener of The Private Citizen for some time now, but I never got around to write in. That is, until today. I really enjoy your shows. Not because I always agree with what you say: sometimes I agree, sometimes I couldn’t disagree more.
I wanted to let you know that I really liked your show about Dubai. I think you made a very interesting point over there. It is strange that freedom of religion (which is a form of freedom of speech) is often found more important than the freedom of e.g spreading a conspiracy theory (which is also a form of that same freedom of speech).
I have the impression that the idea to censor or prohibit “unwanted” speech often slips into our society by people that may have good intentions: they want to keep us all “safe”. But I think we should be very alert every time some instance wants to limit the things that we are allowed to say.
Thank you for all the work you put into this podcast.
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