Comment on Are mRNA Vaccines for COVID-19 helpful or harmful? by Sean Pitman.
Just because the effectiveness of vaccines may wane over time doesn’t mean that they aren’t working. They are working, very well. The vast majority of those who are being hospitalized right now with severe COVID-19 infections are the unvaccinated – by a ratio of more than 10:1 over the vaccinated.
Here’s an explanation from Shane Crotty, Ph.D. (Immune system and vaccine scientist. Professor, La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI), a non-profit research institute): Link
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Are mRNA Vaccines for COVID-19 helpful or harmful?
I don’t know about Dr. Botha, in particular, but others have made similar claims. Of course, I see no credible evidence to support such sensational claims…
As of June 11, 2021, approximately 296 million doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in the United States, with 52 million administered to persons aged 12–29 years; of these, 30 million were first and 22 million were second doses. Within the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) (4), the national vaccine safety passive monitoring system, 1,226 reports of myocarditis after mRNA vaccination were received during December 29, 2020–June 11, 2021. Among persons with reported myocarditis after mRNA vaccination, the median age was 26 years (range = 12–94 years), with median symptom onset interval of 3 days after vaccination (range = 0–179). Among 1,194 reports for which patient age was known, 687 were among persons aged <30 years and 507 were among persons aged ≥30 years; of 1,212 with sex reported, 923 were male, and 289 were female.§§ Among 1,094 patients with number of vaccine doses received reported, 76% occurred after receipt of dose 2 of mRNA vaccine; cases were reported after both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Informed by early reports, CDC prioritized rapid review of myocarditis in persons aged <30 years reported during May 1–June 11, 2021; the 484 patient records in this subset were evaluated by physicians at CDC, and several reports were also reviewed with Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project investigators,¶¶ including cardiologists. At the time of this report, 323 of these 484 cases were determined to meet criteria in CDC’s case definitions for myocarditis, pericarditis, or myopericarditis by provider interview or medical record review (Table 1). The median age of the 323 patients meeting CDC’s case definitions was 19 years (range = 12−29 years); 291 were male, and 32 were female. The median interval from vaccination to symptom onset was 2 days (range = 0−40 days); 92% of patients experienced onset of symptoms within 7 days of vaccination. Of the 323 persons meeting CDC’s case definitions, 309 (96%) were hospitalized. Acute clinical courses were generally mild; among 304 hospitalized patients with known clinical outcomes, 95% had been discharged at time of review, and none had died. Treatment data in VAERS are preliminary and incomplete; however, many patients have experienced resolution of symptoms with conservative treatment, such as receipt of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs. Follow-up is ongoing to identify and understand longer-term outcomes after myocarditis occurring after COVID-19 vaccination. (Link)
In comparison, those who are infected with COVID-19 have a much higher rate of myocarditis as well as a much MUCH higher rate of long-term injuries and death. Up to a third of otherwise young healthy people, including athletes and even children, end up with myocarditis following even mild infections with COVID-19.
1. I assume some defective mRNA strands and lipid layers can be generated during the myriad of involved complex chemical processes. Do we understand percentage of defective nanoparticles / mRNA strands? Does process include QA that somehow reduces or eliminates potentially harmful defects. What is risk of defective mRNA strands that could encode for harmful proteins? Any other associated risks here that I am not addressing?
Given that the mRNA sequences in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are synthetically produced, I would say that there are very few defective mRNA sequences. And, when it comes to producing proteins based on these few defective sequences, the additional risk from such defective sequences for the human body would be, effectively, zero. In fact, a few slight variations in the protein sequence for the spike protein would only result in slight variations in the immune system response. And, producing such slight variations are already part of how our human immune system is programmed to work – automatically producing slight variations in the antibodies produced against a particular type of foreign antigen, for example.
2. How much independent review occurred with these vaccines? Is the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety the only body that reviewed. Do scientiests get hands-on and eyes-on access to the actual chemical processes to verify what is happening (in vitro and in vivo), or are they just provided with white papers and reports for review?
A great many scientists were involved in the production and review of the mRNA vaccines. These vaccines, how they work, and their effects on human biochemistry are very well known by a great many scientists who work in this field of immunochemistry. There are no fundamental secrets here.
3. Some papers and FAQs claim the generated viral “spike protein” is presented on the cell surface. Some of your dialogue here seems to indicate that this is not the case. Which is it? How is it presented? Is it presented in a variety of ways?
Here are a few diagrams that illustrate what’s happening within different cells of the body where the mRNA sequences are decoded and presented:
Mechanism of action of mRNA vaccines. 1. The mRNA is in vitro transcribed (IVT) from a DNA template in a cell-free system. 2. IVT mRNA is subsequently transfected into dendritic cells (DCs) via (3) endocytosis. 4. Entrapped mRNA undergoes endosomal escape and is released into the cytosol. 5. Using the translational machinery of host cells (ribosomes), the mRNA is translated into antigenic proteins. The translated antigenic protein undergoes post-translational modification and can act in the cell where it is generated. 6. Alternatively, the protein is secreted from the host cell. 7. Antigen protein is degraded by the proteasome in the cytoplasm. The generated antigenic peptide epitopes are transported into the endoplasmic reticulum and loaded onto major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules (MHC I). 8. The loaded MHC I-peptide epitope complexes are presented on the surface of cells, eventually leading to the induction of antigen-specific CD8 + T cell responses after T-cell receptor recognition and appropriate co-stimulation. 9. Exogenous proteins are taken up DCs. 10. They are degraded in endosomes and presented via the MHC II pathway. Moreover, to obtain cognate T-cell help in antigen-presenting cells, the protein should be routed through the MHC II pathway. 11. The generated antigenic peptide epitopes are subsequently loaded onto MHC II molecules. 12. The loaded MHC II-peptide epitope complexes are presented on the surface of cells, leading to the induction of the antigen-specific CD4 + T cell responses. Exogenous antigens can also be processed and loaded onto MHC class I molecules via a mechanism known as cross-presentation. (Link)
Now, The mRNA-1273-encoded prefusion stabilizes the S protein (Moderna Vaccine) consists of the SARS-CoV-2 glycoprotein with a transmembrane anchor and an intact S1–S2 cleavage site. The presence of the transmembrane anchor would seem to enable some of the spike proteins to remain attached to the surface of the cell that produced them, such as a muscle cell, but would still be recognized as “foreign” by the immune system. (Link)
See also: Link
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Dr. Aseem Malhotra: From Pro-Vax to Anti-Vax
The strong anti-vaxx stance of many Adventists has been a big surprise to me as well! I just don’t get it. We’re supposed to be strong supporters of good cutting-edge advances in medical science…
Dr. Aseem Malhotra: From Pro-Vax to Anti-Vax
I think it’s even less common than that. However, when my boys were vaccinated, we did have the techs pull back on the syringe both times (Link). Myocarditis occurs about twice after every 100,000 injections. On top of that, research shows it’s typically mild and resolves quickly (Link).
Dr. Aseem Malhotra: From Pro-Vax to Anti-Vax
Natural vs. Vaccine-derived Immunity
Toby Rogers is a political economist who is also strongly anti-vax. He is not a medical scientist or physician.
In any case, this particular article, by Rogers, distorts the data regarding vaccines and the position of Dr. Peter Aaby – who is a strong supporter of vaccines in general (although, when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, he seems to favor the adenovirus-based vaccines, such as Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca/Oxford or the one produced by China’s CanSino Biologics, over the mRNA-based vaccines – since the adenovirus-based vaccines may have more benefit on reducing “overall mortality – Link). Note, however, that this study found that of the 31 deaths that occured in mRNA-vaccinated individuals, only two were from COVID-19. The rest were due to other causes. For the adenovirus-vaccinated group, two of the 16 deaths were from COVID-19. It’s very difficult, then, to determine a clear relationship here between the different types of vaccines and deaths not related to COVID-19.
“The study isn’t about the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines against COVID,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health and Security. “The study is aimed to determine if COVID vaccines have non-specific mortality impacts that extend beyond the incontrovertible mortality benefit they confer with COVID-19. Certain vaccines have effects that extend beyond the target infection and decrease mortality from other causes (e.g. measles vaccine).”
Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, also said the question of the paper isn’t about COVID-19, but whether the vaccines had a beneficial effect on other causes of mortality. The research reinforced that both types of vaccines significantly prevented COVID-19 deaths, “which is not surprising as both types of vaccines generate cellular immunity against SARS-CoV-2, protecting us against severe disease.”
“However, to be fair,” Gandhi said, “the number of non-COVID and COVID deaths were rare in all of the pooled analyses and the causes of non-COVID deaths not well adjudicated, so this analysis needs to be taken as preliminary and hypothesis generating at best.”
What’s interesting here is that studies have shown that the “all cause” mortality rate is also reduced for those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 – to include those who’ve been vaccinated via the mRNA-based vaccines (Link).
Anyway, here’s a more balanced view of Dr. Aaby’s position on vaccines (Link). Note also that Dr. Aaby supported the vaccines against COVID-19 for adults (Link), but not necessarily for children since children have significantly reduced risk (compared to adults) for COVID-19 infections (Link). Dr. Aaby did publish some interesting results, however, suggesting that the polio vaccine, as well as the BCG and MMR vaccines, may also reduce childhood risk from COVID-19 as well (Link, Link).
“We would not be surprised if MMR could provide some protection against severe COVID-19,” said researcher Peter Aaby, of Bandim Health Project in Guinea-Bissau and Research Centre for Vitamins and Vaccines (CVIVA), Statens Serum Institut, a governmental public health and research institution under the Danish Ministry of Health in Copenhagen, Denmark and a pioneer in the field. “Together with my partner Dr. Christine Stabell Benn, we’ve been reporting on mortality reductions from live-attenuated vaccines such as polio, BCG and measles vaccine/MMR for multiple decades now, and arguing for optimized vaccine schedules. With the COVID-19 crisis adding urgency, it’s good to see the potential of non-specific immune effects being taken seriously.” (Link)
Overall, I do find Dr. Aaby’s main concern to be well-supported that vaccines may produce unforseen beneficial as well as detrimental side effects. In the case of COVID-19, however, it was very clear to me that the potential unknown risks were clearly outweighed when compared to the known risks of getting infected by COVID-19 as well as the very clear known benefits of being vaccinated – particularly for adults over the age of 50 and those with various medical conditions that put them at great risk. Even healthy children seemed to be far more at risk from a live COVID-19 infection than from the vaccines – particularly regarding long-term effects. Of course, this was all before the current less severe Omicron variant took over and the predominant variant worldwide. At this current point in time, vaccines against COVID-19 don’t seem to me to have as significant of an advantage compared to earlier on in the pandemic.
Hope this helps,
Back to Square One…
I’m not sure what “teachings” you have in mind here that need amending?