Last May, an ever-evolving variant of Omicron surprised internationally renowned immunologist Chris Goodnow.
A very healthy Australian scientist who hiked, cycled and surfed on Sydney’s Manly Beach was fortified by four rounds of vaccination. After nearly 40 years of researching the disease, he felt it was fairly safe to remove the mask.
“Now that we’re fully vaccinated, wouldn’t it be better to catch Rona and get over it?” he remembers speculating.
“After all, isn’t it the cold of a person who is completely immune?
But Omicron scoffed at these general assumptions.
On May 26, Goodnow collapsed with an itchy throat. Twelve days later, his immune system had not cleared the virus.He then suffered congestive heart failure. He developed a chest cough and was out of breath. his ankle was swollen.
Goodnow was lucky. His acute myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) was at the mild end of the range, but severe enough to limit his athletic ability and working life.
As a result of the infection, last July Goodnow resigned as director of the Immunogenomics Lab at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia “for health reasons”.
In a very candid interview with an Australian radio station and a subsequent personal column, Goodnow admitted that COVID had not behaved as widely expected.
“It really surprised me, and I’m sure it surprised most immunologists,” he said in a radio interview.
Like many scientists, Goodnow assumed that post-vaccination infections would be mild. Reinfection is mostly asymptomatic. That COVID will behave like the common cold after vaccination; and a mutant-specific vaccine will save us from the pandemic.
But Goodnow now thinks these assumptions are wrong, and is trying to debunk the myth that “many of us, myself included, have had more fun than they should have.” He now joins the ranks of scientific experts who are sounding new alarms about COVID, “so many others,” he said, “working hard to stop the endless wave of reinfections.” increase.
neither cold nor flu
The first myth Goodnow hopes to debunk, and perhaps the most common one, is that COVID is just the common cold.
But the common cold doesn’t work the way COVID does in the body.
For example, 2.3% of athletes with colds do not develop heart inflammation after infection, according to a test conducted at 10 U.S. colleges.
Colds also do not worsen outcomes with each subsequent infection, as Goodnow et al. fear may be COVID. It expresses concern about studies that have not yet been peer-reviewed.
Al-Aly and two other researchers examined the health records of 250,000 veterans who were once infected with COVID. 36,000 people were infected twice, and 2,000 were infected three times.
Using a “hazard ratio” (a measure of how often something bad happens to one group compared to another), researchers found that the risks of heart, brain, kidney, and blood complications were all associated with subsequent found to increase with each infection.
As Goodnow points out about the findings, “For example, the risk of cardiovascular disease increased after one infection, but doubled in those with two infections, and increased to three in those with three infections.” It has doubled.”
Similar risks were found for heart disease, blood clotting disorders, brain dysfunction and diabetes. Also, vaccines did not appear to help prevent these problems, which most frequently occur within 6 months of infection.
Goodnow, who believes veterans are studying “really important real-world data,” said, “Every time you dip a bucket into the coronavirus, a lot of bad things can happen.” explained.
His take: “COVID-19 is more than just a cold, and you can’t be ‘cured’ just because you had it before.”
The influence can be seen in Goodnow’s own home. On September 14, researchers said, “By 2022, more than 12,000 Australians will have died from his COVID, six times his death toll in the past two years.” increase. “Despite a significant increase in immunity from the third and fourth vaccinations, natural infections, and life-saving therapies introduced in April this year, the deadly summer surge occurred,” he added.
Not a one-off virus
A second myth that Goodnow hopes to dismantle is that COVID is a “one-off virus.”
Many viruses, such as childhood diseases polio and measles, provide long-term immunity after vaccination or natural infection. But members of the coronavirus family don’t act the same way. Infectious diseases or vaccines only provide transient or temporary immune protection. This reduced or temporary immunity explains the need for repeated boosters.
Consider, for example, the four different cold viruses—all members of the coronavirus family—that attack humans each year, explains Goodnow. Two of these viruses have been acting like Omicron for the past 30 years, according to a recent US investigation. “They come every year or two and escape the antibodies we made earlier.”
Coronaviruses have also learned to evade the immune systems of other species.
In fact, the first coronavirus discovered was found in chickens in the 1930s. In chickens, infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) not only causes respiratory disease, but also damages the intestines, kidneys, and even the reproductive system. For the poultry industry, IBV remains his second biggest viral problem after influenza.
A single vaccination against IBV in chickens provides immunity to infection for about 16 weeks, after which “antibodies drop,” says Goodnow. “This is a modus operandi unique to coronaviruses, including COVID,” he says. “This is a trick that this class of viruses developed long ago.”
COVID is therefore not a ‘one-off’ virus and an infection or vaccine provides limited and lasting immunity against another infection.
Vaccines do not stop transmission
Goodnow also analyzed another powerful myth. That is, vaccines stop transmission.
Many people have long assumed that being completely immune means not being infected. “That’s another arrogance I’ve had—until very recently,” he says Goodnow.
What really changed that assumption was the emergence of Omicron, the most resistant avoidant variant to date. Before the Omicron wave, I rarely got reinfected with other of his COVID variants. Reinfection now accounts for more than 10% of all cases.
At the population level, vaccines do a good job of keeping people out of hospitals and cemeteries, and recent studies have found that vaccines are associated with lower long-term COVID risk. Getting vaccinated is important, but getting vaccinated won’t stop some of the infections and complications caused by those infections.
Goodnow, citing data from the UK Health and Security Agency, said citizens who received two doses of the vaccine and an additional booster were protected from infection from 95% against Delta to just 45% against Omicron. decreased to
“Previous infections and vaccinations do not stop the virus from spreading, so Omicron already produced an even more heavily mutated offspring, BA. It’s twice as good,” Goodnow said in the article.
“We have to assume our defenses are down right now. Getting boosters is essential, but don’t make the mistake of ditching masks and social distancing just yet.”
Since Goodnow wrote about Omicron in July, more evidence has emerged to support his warnings. In a yet-to-be-peer-reviewed study, Danish scientists found that “the incidence of omicron-omicron reinfection occurs at shorter time intervals than seen after primary infection with the non-omicron subspecies of interest.
“Our analysis suggests that a single infection from SARS-CoV-2 may not generate the protective immunity needed to protect against reinfection from new Omicron lineages. .”
Researchers from South Africa also report that “vaccine effectiveness against current substrains of the Omicron subspecies is rapidly declining in terms of protection against hospitalization.”
Variant-specific vaccines are not silver bullets
The final myth that Goodnow addresses is the belief that a mutant-specific vaccine is the big answer to getting back to normal.
Boosters certainly increase antibodies and provide better protection against hospitalizations and deaths, but they are competing with the evolution of the virus.
Moderna’s new bivalent vaccine (including the old Wuhan strain and the first Omicron variant) increases neutralizing antibodies to twice the level of the original booster. This is good news, he says Goodnow.
However, these neutralizing antibodies are hit hard when faced with the immune evasion properties of BA.5.
Given the maddening level of virus evolution, vaccines are in what Goodnow calls a “two steps forward, three steps back dilemma.” And, like some other experts, he said that until he devised a way to outsmart the virus by developing a vaccine that was durable, mutagenesis-resistant, and would stop transmission, things would continue. I don’t think it will end.
can it? Despite the hope that many scientists will develop a nasal spray vaccine, “nobody knows,” says Goodnow.
But an Australian immunologist who once believed he “handled COVID pretty well” now believes: Given the “social, personal and economic costs” it is simply unacceptable.
For now, Goodnow has its own plan to avoid the dangers posed by cumulative reinfection.
‘I’m throwing away COVID arrogance,’ swears top immunologist
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