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Repeat COVID vax worsens immune response, could 'enhance' dengue, international research suggests

"Gold standard" international research collaborative published shoddy review of vaccine efficacy and safety, scientists allege.

Published: October 25, 2023 11:00pm

With regulators worldwide on the defensive for approving mRNA COVID-19 vaccines associated with seizures and heart inflammation in low-risk groups, and confirmed to be contaminated with DNA in large-scale batch production, more science is filling in the gaps left by governments.

Dutch government-funded researchers confirmed the peer-reviewed work of two sets of German counterparts who found repeat vaccination spurs a "class switch" to inferior antibodies that moderate rather than neutralize SARS-CoV-2 infection, in a much larger study awaiting peer review.

A new Indian preprint finds that COVID antibodies "enhance" a much worse disease, dengue, raising serious questions about the safety of boosting in dengue hotspots. Previous peer-reviewed research has already found "cross-reactivity" between the two viruses and their antibodies.

An international research collaborative often described as the "gold standard" of evidence-based medicine is facing scrutiny for alleged glaring holes in its systematic review of COVID vaccine safety and efficacy last year, just months after a row over editorial interference in a mask review.

Federal health officials have tried in public appearances this fall to boost interest in the latest updates to the short-lived therapeutics, with little to show for it. The uptake rate was roughly 2% as of Oct. 12, far from the 17% Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla predicted for the entire fall vaccination campaign in an Oct. 16 analyst call.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Mandy Cohen appeared with Sen. Chuck Schumer in a video last week. The New York Democrat claimed without specificity that flu and COVID vaccines "do you a lot of good" and "avoid a lot of pain later." Cohen also documented her own inoculation.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has barely acknowledged COVID vaccines in the past month, instead focusing on mental health, which research as recently as September has concluded was worsened by COVID policies. As with other federal officials, Murthy appears more likely to encourage vaccination in general than for COVID specifically.

Researchers at institutions in The Netherlands sought to determine how "widely used immunosuppressive drugs" affect what they call "IgG4 skewing" – the body's shift to noninflammatory antibodies known for helping humans adapt to allergies – upon repeated COVID vaccination. 

They tested over 600 participants who were vaccinated from February 2021 to May 2022, with an average age of 53 and 62% female. 

The IgG4 levels were "very low" after first and second mRNA doses but "greatly boosted" by the third dose, reaching about 21% of antibodies from the usual 1%, the Oct. 2 preprint found.

"This IgG4 skewing was absent when primary vaccination was adenoviral vector-based," referring to the non-mRNA vaccine from AstraZeneca they tested, and "profoundly reduced" for patients taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.

One of the previous papers finding this booster class switch was edited by a Pfizer scientist and reviewed by a scientist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Dr. Anthony Fauci led for 38 years.

The Oct. 10 Indian preprint explored how COVID antibodies affect infection by dengue viruses, which are prone to "antibody-dependent enhancement" – when antibodies act as a "Trojan horse" for pathogens – and are endemic to more than 120 countries in Asia. 

The researchers said dengue cases tripled in India, doubled in Singapore and shot up by 19 times in Bangladesh in 2021. 

By analyzing human convalescent plasma samples "collected during different waves" of COVID, they determined that COVID antibodies through either natural infection or "experimental immunization in animals were cross-reactive" with dengue and "had the potential to enhance" dengue infection. They observed a "strong interaction" at the molecular level as well.

"Whether antibodies formed after COVID (or after COVID vaccination) will help the dengue virus," similar to how a first dengue infection often makes a second one worse, "has been a subject of debate," former Indian Medical Association President Rajeev Jayadevan wrote in an X thread on the study. 

While it's a "good question" whether intentional creation of COVID antibodies via repeat vaccination could make this worse than taking a chance with occasional natural infection, "there is a limit of reasonable speculation" when simply "exposing lab cells to serum containing antibodies," Jayadevan told Just the News, citing variables that affect "real life outcomes."

Several scientists led by University of Maryland pharmacy professor Peter Doshi, also a senior editor at the British Medical Journal, formally challenged a Cochrane review of COVID vaccine efficacy and safety updated last year.

The researchers behind the U.K-based research charity's review did not give readers "any warning that efficacy results are no longer generalizable to most people" because of near-universal natural immunity to COVID, the Doshi-led Oct. 19 letter to Cochrane says.

It also asked the researchers to clarify whether the same problem "applies to serious adverse events" (SAEs) as well as efficacy results. 

Doshi and others protested the researchers' definitions as well.

The review included COVID cases without hospitalization – which in the Moderna trial comprised the vast majority – and oxygen saturation levels up to 93% under the banner of "severe or critical," and described an SAE rate of 1 in 200 as "little to no difference" compared to placebos.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the review authors excluded "cases that occurred in the first 4-6 weeks of participant follow-up" from their evaluation of efficacy, meaning that "derived estimates of vaccine efficacy would not reflect the actual protection vaccination affords after getting vaccination," the challenge letter says.

The review is flatly false by claiming it's not clear "if and how vaccine protection wanes over time," when even Pfizer's trial data showed waning efficacy, Doshi and others wrote. 

They also protested what they considered the authors' lackadaisical response to the "inadvertent unblinding" in phase three of both mRNA trials, because a "participant who suspects they received [a] vaccine is less likely to acknowledge and report" a possible COVID symptom, and the opposite for a placebo.

Cochrane, the international medical-research reviewer, did not respond to queries on what the letter implies about Cochrane's oversight of the review and whether Editor-in-Chief Karla Soares-Weiser would again personally respond to criticism, as she did by unilaterally reinterpreting its mask review this spring.

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