Diversification is the way out of the pandemic

It baffles me how myopic we humans can be when trying to find solutions to some of our biggest challenges. Many thought nuclear power could be a one-stop replacement for fossil fuel, but it turned out to come with numerous problems, especially the risks of nuclear waste disposal and reactor meltdowns. A diversified complex of renewable energy sources using solar and wind seems to be a more sustainable, long-term option, now close to getting consensus from scientists, industry, politicians and the public. 

Our latest challenge is how to exit decisively and smoothly from the pandemic. I believe it’s a big mistake to put all our eggs in one basket—that basket representing vaccine-based solutions. 

This isn’t an anti-vax position; it’s a cautionary one. We have a number of signals now that are beginning to provide evidence of the risks if we continue with this unilateral approach. 

One of these is evidenced by a new Israeli study led by Drs Adi Stern and Shay Ben-Shachar, which confirms that those vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine—the vaccine being delivered to the Israeli population in return for health data sharing—are eight times more likely to be infected by the South African variant of the virus (B.1.351) compared with those who are unvaccinated. 

The researchers also found that those who were partially vaccinated (one of two doses) were about three times more likely to be infected by the UK mutant strain (B.1.1.7).1

This phenomenon, known as vaccine breakthrough or escape, shows that the type of immunity conferred by vaccines designed around the original virus may make vaccinated people more susceptible to mutant viruses. 

This could create significant problems down the line if mutant viruses become dominant in particular regions. It’s worth noting that a ‘double mutant’ variant including two troubling mutations (L452R and E484Q) is growing in incidence in India—home to 18 percent of the world’s population. 

These mutations were found to be increasing in frequency in India by the 10 national labs that make up the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics, and now comprise as much as 20 percent of all specimens studied. 

The mutants are troubling because they confer an increased transmission rate and also likely incur a greater risk to life. 

If vaccination is your primary mitigation strategy and it doesn’t work well, your citizens could be in difficulty. Yes, you can modify your vaccines to cater to these changes in the virus, but you could end up on a vaccine treadmill, one in which the virus continues to stay a step or two ahead and you need to keep on tweaking vaccines, with more and more people being only partially protected, if at all, and risk the possibility that mutants could become more dangerous over time.

We’ve seen this treadmill in action many times before. For example, ‘pressure’ from antibiotics can lead to the increased prevalence of bacteria that have acquired, through mutations, the genetic capacity to metabolize a specific antibiotic. This has led to massive problems with antibiotic resistance that now means doctors are being urged to prescribe antibiotics judiciously and not hand them out like candy, as they did for decades.

A second concern is a signal for increased risk of autoimmune disease, in which the immune system is triggered to attack one or more parts of the body. Autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, are among the fastest-rising disease types. 

Remember when the news of increased blood clot risks associated with some of the vaccines was first denied by regulators, governments and vaccine companies alike? Then the results, especially among women under 50, became inescapable, and some governments have taken steps to ensure younger people are not vaccinated. 

What has been less widely discussed is that this response is autoimmune. 

This ‘side-effect,’ called vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia, or VIPIT for short, is rare—so far estimated to occur in around one in 250,000 people vaccinated with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

But Norway has reported that low platelet counts, which indicate thrombocytopenia, occur in as few as one in 25,0000 vaccinated individuals. 

No one can be sure what we will discover in time, but with such large numbers being vaccinated globally, these risks could amount to many tens or even hundreds of thousands at potential risk of this life-threatening condition. 

With these disturbing signals, coupled with our knowledge of history, why aren’t governments and health authorities embracing a more diversified approach to our exit strategy? One that includes steps that build the resilience of our immune systems and rely on the many natural, immune-enhancing strategies you’ve read about in these uncensored pages? 

Tell everyone you know: diversification will be our way out. Diversity has always been—and will always be—the only way to establish balance in an unstable system.

 

References

1 

medRxiv 2021.04.06.21254882; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.06.21254882