Several datasets have shown what appears to be negative vaccine effectiveness against infection – of higher infection rates among the vaccinated than among the unvaccinated. While this was phenomenon was initially ascribed to the use of incorrect denominators when estimating infection rates, it’s now too widespread to ignore.
One possible explanation for negative vaccine effectiveness is original antigenic sin – a property of the immune system’s response to some viruses.
When the immune system encounters a novel pathogen, it responds to the pathogen’s antigens. Original antigenic sin means that when it encounters a related version of the pathogen, it may respond to the antigens carried by the original version. The result is weaker immunity.
If original antigenic sin exists for the Covid vaccines, then vaccinated people might actually have weaker immunity against certain variants – either now or in the future – because the vaccines have ‘programmed’ their immune systems to target the Wuhan strain.
While a number of sceptics and other ‘non-mainstream’ commentators have mentioned original antigenic sin in this context, we haven’t heard much about it from ‘mainstream’ commentators.
One exception was an op-ed written by three virologists, two of whom resigned from the FDA when the Biden Administration approved booster shots for 16 and 17 year olds without consulting a key advisory panel. In the op-ed, Philip Krause and colleagues point out that “boosting on the original antigen could be counterproductive”.
More recently, original antigenic sin found its way into the New York Times – America’s ‘newspaper of record’. “Some experts have raised concerns,” the article notes, that getting boosters too often “may even be harmful”. And one “plausible” reason why is “original antigenic sin”.
The article goes on to quote Harvard vaccine scientist Amy Sherman as saying, “We have enough clues that it could be a problem.”
There’s certainly no proof that original antigenic sin exists for the Covid vaccines. But the evidence is growing. And it’s summarised in this detailed piece for the Epoch Times by Todd Zywicki. He concludes:
More evidence will be needed before one can raise definitive concern about the risk of OAS with respect to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. But theory, laboratory evidence, and clinical analysis all point to this as a rapidly emerging risk of the current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and one that could be exacerbated by widespread application of booster shots,
As to the alternative explanation that’s been put forward for higher infection rates among vaccinated people – that they take more risks – Zywicki offers a comprehensive rebuttal:
Reams of data and studies demonstrate that not only are these suppositions groundless, they are also exactly opposite to reality. Studies demonstrate what everyday experience during the pandemic tells us – that vaccinated individuals are much more likely to fear SARS-CoV-2 more than unvaccinated and more likely to take precautions against potential COVID-19 infection.
Original antigenic sin ought to be getting a lot more attention from public health authorities. In the meantime, Zywicki’s article is worth reading in full.