Imagine for a moment, that every SARS-COV-2 infection causes some damage to the function of your population of T-cells and it takes six months for your population to fully recover to baseline. This seems to be a fair guess, if hospitalized patients are somewhat representative of all patients. There’s also evidence of some damage after eight months, in people with long covid.
Finally, we can take a look at this graph of CD4+ T cell counts following mild COVID infections, that I found here:
That light blue line suggests that we’re looking at the correct order of magnitude, when I propose it takes six months to recover T-cell immune capacity against SARS-COV-2. This estimate looks rather shocking of course, I may hope that the effect of reinfections on T cell counts is less immense, but I doubt it’s going to be zero.
I can only offer you simplifications for everything, because biology is infinitely complex. The T-cells that die are a non-random subset of your T-cells, other T-cells will fill the gap but their overall diversity will have been reduced and so you may have “holes” in your shield, that certain types of pathogens can make use of, whereas others can’t. This is not necessarily a catastrophe, it happens to everyone as we age, but it’s worth pointing out.
Imagine we come up with a variable that we call “T-cell function” and we’ll say it takes a 6% dip on average whenever you get SARS-COV-2, increasing again by 1% a month until it reaches baseline again after six months. Immunity against SARS-COV-2 is complex, it involves many different factors, but it seems fair to say that T-cells play some role in prohibiting people from getting reinfected, or eliminating an infection so early on during disease that we never notice anything happened and won’t even test positive. For more on this, look here.
Imagine we say that your chances of being reinfected are affected by this variable called “T-cell function”, so that for example at 94% T-cell function your average time until the next infection is reduced by 6% compared to what it would otherwise have been. With such a simplified example it’s relatively easy to see that if every infection reduces T-cell function, but the reduction in T-cell function then increases the chances of reinfection, you are theoretically at risk of getting stuck in a positive feedback loop: Infections damage immune capacity, which causes more infections, which further damages immune capacity, until the virus wins.
And it gets worse of course, if you assume your own risk of infection is at least to some degree determined by the overall prevalence of this virus in your surroundings. People suffer declining immune capacity that causes them to get infected more often, this causes other people to be exposed more often, causing them to get infected more often too, which further erodes immune capacity, all the way until you’re left with a decimated population.
If you take all these variables into consideration, it starts to look like it may take just a gentle nudge, to push people from the path towards developing herd immunity against a virus like this, onto the path of continual reinfection. What sort of gentle nudge are we looking for? Well let’s see. Perhaps something like this:
We found significant differences in the titer of anti-S antibodies produced after a first dose of the vaccines ChAdOx1 nCov-19/AstraZeneca, mRNA-1273/Moderna, BNT162b2/Pfizer-BioNTech and Ad26.COV.S/Janssen. Most important, we found a relative reduction in the reactivity of the sera with the Alpha, Delta and Kappa variants, versus the Wuhan one, after the second boosting immunization. These data allow to make a comparison of different vaccines in terms of anti-S antibody generation and cast doubts about the convenience of repeatedly immunizing with the same S protein sequence.
This was what they saw after two doses of the same vaccine, ie the original protocol. At this point, we’ve injected some people with four doses of the same vaccine. Everything we see suggests those with additional doses get infected at higher rates, once the antibody response induced declines. There could be all sorts of mechanisms involved, like the infection enhancing antibodies or the simple problem that your immune system finds itself attacking all sorts of “decoy” spike proteins stuck on your own cells.
If we imagine for a moment that this is what’s going on, some sort of gradual self-amplifying immune degradation, what could we expect to see? Patterns like this:
Algeria, with it’s 14.8% full vaccination rate, remains stuck at the mysterious pattern of zero deaths, suggestive of herd immunity. And Portugal, with 98% of its eligible population vaccinated, seems to be having a bad time. This was once behaving as a seasonal respiratory virus, but in Portugal it shows few signs today of being such a thing. In highly vaccinated American states like California and New York, we also see an unseasonal jump in infections.
I think we can agree there hasn’t been a big ADE/OAS bluecheck genocide, in which every Washington Post columnist or Democratic congressman so grateful for receiving their booster becomes equally grateful for every drop of blood they cough up in the ICU.
And yet simultaneously, we can’t pretend that strange things are not happening. I’m not yet ready to write this off as “just another common cold”, we’re just not there yet. There’s some awkward excess mortality throughout Europe, which gets more awkward with every month it continues. Remember, the people who died of COVID before the whole vaccination campaign were mainly elderly people with little life expectancy left, about half were nursing home residents, whose average life expectancy is about two years. You’re supposed to see a long tail of slightly below average excess mortality after a number of heavy flu seasons like we have had. And yet, people of all ages continue to show excess mortality.
And equally mysterious, is the monkeypox outbreak we’re witnessing. There’s a general consensus that “something must have changed”, but we don’t know what. It’s quite obvious that they’re concerned, simply by looking at the explanations they come up with. They’re arguing it must have been spreading for years in Western nations without anyone noticing, which is of course ridiculous, you can’t exactly ignore these lesions on your skin.
So let me sketch out the scenario I’m worried about. Imagine on the one hand we have your racist Uncle Bob, the MAGA hat wearing self-employed unvaccinated alpha male, who lives in rural Mississippi, surrounded by other unvaccinated alpha males. On the other hand we have our purple-haired double-boosted they/them blue-check Phd who lives in New York City and earns a living fact-checking Uncle Bob’s conviction that Joe Biden has been replaced by a body-double, surrounded by other double-boosted enlightened cosmopolitans. We can imagine their general progression to look somewhat like this:
Uncle Bob caught the China virus exactly twice: A Delta infection and an Omicron BA.2 infection. Everyone on Reddit laughed at him because he ended up hospitalized with Delta after calling the virus “fake news” on Facebook, but he happened to recover and he thanked the Lord above.
Our blue check never got very sick from their mild Delta breakthrough infection. The BA.1 infection that Bob managed to dodge caused some mild symptoms too. The BA.2 infection caused another round of the sniffles, which seemed like a perfect opportunity to thank the booster on Twitter. After recovering from BA.2 they succumbed to BA.2.12.1, but now they were less inclined to thank the booster. And then when BA.5 struck and they were laying in bed again, while Bob was back to sitting in a stadium watching NASCAR drivers make left turns for hours, they began seriously wondering what’s going on.
As we approach the right side of the graph, it becomes apparent that strange things are happening to populations with high vaccination rates, like young gay men who travel around the world in search of gay orgies. I’ve said previously that in Congo, the R0 of Monkeypox was estimated at around 0.83. In Western cities we may imagine it to be around 0.9. But now imagine that the average twenty year old gay man currently has the immune capacity of the average forty year old gay man. Viruses like monkeypox that once tipped into extinction whenever they jumped the species barrier, may now tip into exponential spread.
And all of this could happen, without any clear evidence that people are very sick. You could imagine a generalized progressive decline in immune function to look a bit like what we see around us: Some people have long COVID and nobody really knows what it is, but when you look at their white blood cells there is some evidence of T cell dysfunction. There is some excess mortality we can’t really explain and an unusual number of people are stuck at home with the flu. You always seem to hear some neighbor coughing at night in your apartment block, which you don’t remember being an issue before 2020.
Could this be what’s going on? There is after all, one data point we need to fit into our model of the world somehow, that simply just doesn’t inspire any optimism. Around 25,000 years ago, a coronavirus outbreak emerged among East Asians. Then for the next twenty thousand years, it caused genetic changes to accumulate in their population, that continue to reduce their susceptibility to coronaviruses today. It’s the one eyesore you’re left with, if you think we’re currently on the path towards the evolution of a fifth nothingburger coronavirus.
At the level of individual East Asians in Western nations you won’t notice anything very significant, but when you have a country like Japan or South Korea composed entirely of people with genetic fortitude against corona viruses, the combination of factors would translate into the very low death rates we see today. Dumb Western liberals then look at what goes on there, can’t stomach the idea that they have some sort of genetic resistance and insist that wearing masks will solve this problem.
The four regular coronaviruses also kill quite a few elderly in nursing homes, but you don’t expect to see a dead 88 year old with COPD and dementia who could have lived to be 90 show up in the form of genetic selection, they already passed on their genes. If the East Asian outbreak of a coronavirus left its genetic fingerprints on human populations, it must have done something nasty.
Our thought first goes towards the severe acute respiratory syndrome of course, the whole immune system overreacting to a novel virus. That’s how we tend to think of these viruses as problematic. But I don’t see how selective pressure could last for 20,000 years, if it behaved like that. That doesn’t look like a virus that sticks around for long. But what if a lot of corona viruses just behave like something in between the boring four and the creepy SARS/MERS types? What if the scenario that imposed selective pressure on East Asians, was a progressive immune collapse from frequent T-cell decimating reinfections? In other words, the sort of thing we’re apparently seeing today.
Perhaps there is a subtle nuance involved. In relatively young and unvaccinated third world populations that develop natural immunity against SARS-COV-2, the virus turns into number five of the boring four. On the other hand, in populations with a lot of elderly individuals, as well as a population that has developed a homogenized immune response with infection enhancing antibodies through repetitive spike protein based vaccination, without the sort of innate genetic resistance East Asians have developed through natural selection, it behaves like the middle-ground that causes progressive immune collapse.
If you earn a thousand dollar a month and spend 900, you don’t have to increase your expenses much to get stuck in a feedback loop of entering debt, followed by growing interest expenses to sustain your standard of living. Similarly, we may not need a strong influence, to push a population towards losing immune capacity faster than it is restored through natural compensatory processes. A vaccine that makes the body stuck with an immune response focused at an extinct version of the virus, given to the whole population, could theoretically be enough to tip the balance.
There is hardly anyone who is seriously looking at how mass vaccination influences the evolutionary trajectory of this virus. Geert van den Bossche has put out his predictions, Igor Chudov has pointed out that constant reinfections seem to happen to vaccinated people and El Gato Malo seems pretty worried about the herd-level homogenizing immune fixation, but beyond that, not a whole lot of people seem to be looking at this theoretical problem and what the consequences may prove to be.
There is of course the zero COVID crowd, who seem quite upset by the idea of constant reinfections, but their solution is to persist for longer, in the sort of follies that got us stuck in this situation in the first place: Masks that don’t work, vaccines that actively make it worse, lockdowns that are as damaging as the disease itself, etc.
The problem is, once you’ve made a commitment with your own arm, it becomes hard to reflect critically on these vaccines. If you spend your days terrified of the batsoupflu, the idea that you got fooled into taking a bad vaccine that makes you more vulnerable to this virus is so horrifying that you won’t open your mind to it.
By now we have sufficient evidence that vaccination leads to negative protection against infection from Omicron. Sure, there may still be some residual protection against the body accidentally injuring itself as it finds itself forced to fight off a virus that looks completely new to it, but if even mild infections cause damage to the immune system, negative efficacy can not be considered anything other than an absolute disaster. After all, negative efficacy amplifies itself: You yourself will get reinfected more often, but because you’re getting infected more often, you’re spreading the virus more often too.
The big question perhaps, is how uncoupled the unvaccinated are from the vaccinated. Let’s say once again, that full immune capacity is restored after six months and the unvaccinated are infected once every seven months. In a context of mass vaccination, the unvaccinated may be infected every five months on average, simply because they’re now exposed more often, thus being tipped into progressive immune decline.
However, people tend to cluster. The vaccinated tend to live among the vaccinated, the unvaccinated preferentially interact with the unvaccinated. What does that look like? Well, here we have the least vaccinated municipality of the Netherlands, Urk, a strictly Christian place:
And here we see infections in the past seven days:
You’ve all seen examples of this nature before. The pattern shows up at every level you look at, from group comparisons by vaccination category, to comparisons between countries, to comparisons between municipalities by vaccination rate, regardless of the country you’re looking at. El Gato Malo has shown it for the US, here you see it for the Netherlands. In contrast to other parts of the country, Urk has also had a total of zero COVID deaths since the start of the Omicron wave.
The problem I’m dealing with, is that I see a bunch of positive feedback loops from this point onwards:
-Continual vaccination, because people are stupid.
-Continual immune capacity decline from further infections.
-Continual evolution of the virus, away from susceptibility to the antibody response that people have artificially induced with these vaccines.
And the negative feedback loops that are supposed to save the day, would seem to be almost depleted:
-Further immunity from infection.
-A decline in the overall rate of vaccine coverage, because children are born who don’t receive the vaccines and people migrate from unvaccinated to highly vaccinated regions of the world.
After you have had two infections from this virus, one pre-omicron and one omicron, how much more improvement in your immune capacity can you realistically expect? I don’t think we can expect a whole lot, as evidenced by the fact that people who have had a BA.2 infection rapidly get reinfected by the newer Omicron variants, that have very few new mutations compared to BA.2.
I’m sure if you’ve been reading these posts for a while, you’ll notice that it seems like I can’t make my mind up. Either it’s a nothingburger, or we invited a catastrophe onto ourselves. The problem is that the available evidence just doesn’t allow us to draw very strong conclusions. There are too many interacting variables and there is too little historical precedent to look at. This is why you find serious people on all sides of the spectrum, from team nothingburger, to the bluecheck team apocalypse, to the substack team apocalypse BUT ONLY FOR THE VACCINATEDtm.
I honestly just don’t have a clue what the long term trajectory is going to be, the more evidence I run into the more difficult it actually becomes to be convinced by any scenario. But take a look at this trajectory of CD4+ T cell recovery, in HIV patients:
Wait long enough with HAART and CD4+ T cell counts never really fully recover. The graph I cited at the top suggests we’ve had quite a few people by now who will have had new SARS-COV-2 infections, before their CD4+ T cell counts recovered from the previous infection. At what point are you left with some sort of premature aging of the immune system, because of a reduction not just in total CD4+ T cells, but their overall diversity?
You shouldn’t expect by the way, that new boosters are going to improve the situation. If anything, they’re going to make it worse. Take a look at what Moderna just proudly announced:
Antibodies from the new booster against Omicron are about 1.5 times higher than for the previous booster. And of course they’re looking here at results for BA.1, not at what’s now growing dominant (BA.5), which is already practically unaffected by BA.1 immunity. You have to be pretty naive to think this is going to solve anything. Vaccines like this merely serve to accelerate the evolution of this virus, while creating an up-front window of immune suppression.
It’s somewhat hard for me to avoid the impression that we’re on the trajectory of progressive immune depletion from repeated infections. One thing you would expect to start seeing after a while, if you’re dealing with a population wide depletion of CD8+ T-cells, is a noticeable increase in cancer diagnoses. CD8+ T-cells kill cells that turn into cancer, so if vast droves of the population are missing them, the body struggles to remove such cells. Another thing you may see, is an increase in people suffering sepsis. In fact, the immune system is involved in so many bodily functions, that you may wonder if we would notice any specific peak in deaths at all, rather than just a broad unexplainable increase in excess mortality.
I’ve argued here that we could consider the mass vaccination campaign to be a gentle nudge of the sort that turns a profitable company into a company that finds itself unable to pay off the interests on its debt. But ultimately, to characterize what’s going on as a gentle nudge may flatter the vaccination campaign too much. After all, here’s what we’ve done:
-We have injected some people with DNA from a genetically modified adenovirus. This enters people’s cells (we don’t really know which ones) and then goes on to continually produce Wuhan-type spike proteins against which the body has to deploy antibodies. Although the mRNA goes away again, with the DNA vaccines this production seems to go on essentially for the rest of your life.
-We have injected others with mRNA. With every injection a bunch of white blood cells migrate to the injection site to deal with this spike protein. These are the exact sort of white blood cells that would help you fight off an infection, so you immediately have a window of increased infection susceptibility, as your immune competence is temporarily decreased. This is why Dutch youth saw such a massive spike in infections during the summer of 2021: They would get the shot, go into a club the next weekend and get infected.
-We prohibit the development of nucleocapsid antibodies, that are vital to prevent dissemination of this virus into the brain and other organs.
-We encourage the development of antibodies that the virus can use to its own advantage.
-We expose everyone to an identical version of the virus, thereby homogenizing the immune response at a population-wide level. This makes it easy for the virus to come up with escape mutations that nobody has immunity against yet.
-We repeatedly expose everyone to the same identical version of the spike protein, thereby fooling the body into thinking its immune response wasn’t strong enough to fight off the virus and so it further zooms in on the Wuhan spike protein to the expense of its normal gradual increase in breadth of its response, that would normally help it fight off other variants.
-Whenever people now get infected, it seems the immune system is confused. You hear reports of people who got a breakthrough infection and get aching in their injection site months after getting vaccinated, suggesting that the immune system finds itself fighting the spike proteins expressed by your own cells, that now serve as decoys. In a heavy infection that actively kills your T-cells, this is not what you wish to be seeing.
-The Spike protein itself is toxic. It can damage your hematopoetic stem cells that give rise to your white blood cells.
-We have to consider the possibility that antibodies decline so rapidly, because the white blood cells that are equipped to deal with developing a neutralizing response against the Wuhan spike protein become exhausted. Then once they are exhausted, you’re left with increased susceptibility.
So there are quite a few pathways towards increased infection susceptibility that are worth looking into. The most popular one is of course the OAS/ADE story, but what we have is concrete evidence that these vaccines have the worst possible effect: They prohibit widely vaccinated populations from developing herd immunity against this virus. The evidence we have shows that these vaccines have created a condition of herd susceptibility and it’s frankly anyone’s guess how this has happened. You don’t need to understand how something is happening, to be able to recognize that it is in fact happening.
The problem of course, is that the vaccine enthusiasts have never really given a clear standard under which we could say that the vaccine experiment has failed to protect people and merely made the situation worse. Any sort of data point can be interpreted through a lens in which the vaccine continues to work:
-When deaths go up, it means the new variant is deadlier. This means we need to vaccinate more people.
-When deaths are stable, it would have been far worse if we hadn’t vaccinated people. And of course, it means that more people are now getting infected because we relaxed social distancing measures (which have never been shown to work either, but can be usefully fitted into their model of reality).
-When deaths go down, the vaccine is working! Yours sincerely would counter that it means we have some degree of natural immunity and the most vulnerable elderly have died, but those arguments would be cast aside of course.
-When someone like me points out that unvaccinated countries are now doing much better than the highly vaccinated ones, they will throw a combination of these three arguments at you:
- They have had a lot of deaths already and now have some natural immunity!
- They have a much younger population!
- They’re simply leaving a lot of deaths unrecorded!
-When the hospitals are full of boosted elderly, it’s because almost all elderly have been boosted anyway.
But the important point to understand is as following: If you look at how they have placed the goalposts, a saline injection could have scored a goal. If you were an alien who looked at all the data and didn’t know there’s been a vaccination campaign, you wouldn’t see the effect of the vaccination campaign.
The real question now is: Does negative vaccine efficacy continue to feed back in on itself, or do the positive feedback loops eventually become depleted as well? Does the virus run out of sufficient variation it can throw at us that we haven’t encountered yet? Does the effect of these vaccines wear off after a while, allowing highly vaccinated populations to develop the quality of immunity seen in unvaccinated third world populations?
A while ago I offered you this big divergence:
This is what I showed you in october 2021. I argued back then that most policymakers imagine we’re looking at the blue scenario: Vaccine efficacy moves towards zero, requiring boosters to bring it back up to 100. I argued instead, that the evidence increasingly pointed towards the red scenario: Vaccine efficacy doesn’t decline to zero, it continues falling once it hits zero and then declines below zero.
Today I’m quite confident in stating the red scenario was right. But we need a new ugly graph, to chart the trajectory we now have to ponder: Is negative efficacy forever? Can the body overcome an original antigenic sin vaccine induced failure to develop effective sterilizing immunity? Is the virus now done evolving away from susceptibility to the vaccine induced immune response?
And so I leave you, with the big question on my mind: