Coronavirus vaccines: another "7-Step Recipe"?
CORONAVIRUS VACCINES: ANOTHER “7-STEP RECIPE”?
Elizabeth Hart’s point about natural immunity is important, and it applies to influenza as well as coronaviruses. (BMJ rr 3/25/20) Annual flu shots have put us on a treadmill of narrow and short-term protection and subverted the broad and lasting immunity provided by wild virus infections in healthy people. Examples are accumulating of the harms done by influenza vaccines. (Cunningham, www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m626/rr) Now we have a study suggesting that they might increase mortality in the elderly. (Anderson, Ann Intern Med 3/3/20) The title and abstract are bland and innocuous, but Table 2 indicates that vaccines increase mortality from influenza and pneumonia by 17%. (vaccine effectiveness: minus 17.3 %, CI minus 40.7% to 6%) Furthermore, they increase the risk of illness from noninfluenza viruses, including coronaviruses. (Cowling, Clin Infect Dis 2012;54:1778. Wolff, Vaccine 2020;38:350)
Some vaccine experts worry that safe and effective coronavirus vaccines may not be possible, citing animal studies demonstrating “antibody-dependent enhancement” (ADE) of natural infection and the production of pulmonary immunopathology. (Jiang, “Don’t rush to deploy Covid-19 vaccines…” Nature 3/16/20. Takano, J Vet Med Sci 2019;8:911. Tseng, PLoS One 2012;7(4):e35421. Kam, Vaccine 2007;25:729)
The ominous forecasts about Covid-19 remind me of the “Seven-Step Recipe” for increasing demand for flu shots concocted by the CDC in 2004: “…statements of alarm by public health authorities…prediction of dire outcomes from influenza…continued reports that influenza is causing severe illness affecting lots of people…repeated urging of influenza vaccination…” (Doshi, BMJ 2005;331:1419) Sound familiar?
Purely natural immunity from measles brings with it substantial morbidity and mortality, and the imperfect herd immunity provided by the vaccine is a small price to pay to prevent them. Influenza and coronaviruses are a different matter. I am frightened and suspicious about the public decisions currently being made about Covid-19, and I am not alone.
ALLAN S. CUNNINGHAM 26 March 2020
Competing interests: No competing interests