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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Fertility, Clotting, and Immune Escape

Dr. Janci Chunn Lindsay warned recently that all the Covid-19 vaccines must be halted immediately due to three safety concerns:

  • fertility risk;
  • blood clotting;
  • immune escape.
Each of these concerns can be addressed.

Fertility Risk

This concern here is that there is a segment of five amino acids that is common between 1) the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein targeted by vaccines, and 2) the synctyn-1 and -2 proteins of the placenta. This concern has been thoroughly addressed since it was raised by Michael Yeadon on December 2, 2020. The universal theme of the responses is that such segments are far too short to trigger cross-reactivity. My favorite articles about it:
  • Health Feedback on Dec 10 gave a dry and straightforward overview of the initial claim and of the various public analyses demonstrating why a sequence of merely 5 amino acids shared between the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the synctyn protein is not enough to trigger cross-reactivity. If you read only one response to the synctyn fertility concern, this is the one.
  • Edward Nirenberg posted on Dec 3 a prompt and fascinating response explaining
    • the evolution and purpose of the mammalian placenta
    • studies of women with Covid-19 during the first trimester show similar pregnancy outcomes as uninfected women
    • the biomolecular details of whether an amino acid sequence homology is significant
    • synctin and spike proteins are examples of convergent evolution.
  • David Gorski on Dec 14 posted a detailed response explaining
    • the history of infertility conspiracy theories in the anti-vaccine movement
    • inefficient old-fashioned Sanger sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 samples is unnecessary (aside from calibration) given modern sequencing techniques
    • if ADE were a problem we’d expect to have seen it by now
    • immunologist Andrew Croxford also showed it's trivial to find many other human proteins with such short homologies with the spike protein
    • Yeadon denies that the Covid-19 pandemic is real, and claims it is an artifact of mis-calibrated PCR testing
    • Yeadon argues that natural Covid-19 transmission is not to be feared, not realizing that anti-spike T and B cell responses should have the same fertility harms as anti-spike vaccine responses.
It's strange and suspicious that Dr. Lindsay echoes Yeadon's concerns four months after they've been debunked so thoroughly.
Lindsay also gestures towards 100 pregnancy losses reported in VAERS, and multiple reports of menses irregularities. She is right that these must be investigated, but investigation must include comparing with the expected background risk of such incidents. When you ignore comparative incidence, you open yourself to charges of fear-mongering, as lay readers often don't have the habit of comparing anecdotes against baseline expectations. Jen Gunter reviews the science about possible interaction between vaccination and menstruation in this excellent article from April.  (Hat tip to Vaxopedia, a guide to skepticism about vaccine skepticism.)

Blood Clotting

This concern is not really a complaint about the vaccines at all. She says "The natural infection is known to cause coagulopathy due to the spike protein. All gene therapy vaccines direct the body to make the spike protein." She then cites a paper that is all about how natural Covid-19 can cause clotting.
Again, Lindsay offers no discussion of comparative incidence among populations, but just cites 795 clotting disorders in VAERS -- without mentioning that over 100M people had received vaccine injections. More importantly: if Covid spike proteins can cause (rare) clotting problems, then it becomes even more imperative to vaccinate. Vaccine recipients will surely have lower peak loads of spike proteins than would be caused by the many severe Covid cases that the vaccines are clinically proven to diminish.

Immune Escape

Linday claims "We have enough evidence now to see a clear correlation with increased Covid deaths and the vaccine campaigns." On the contrary, Covid deaths have been plummeting in the three most-vaccinated countries: Israel, U.K., and U.S.

Regarding immune escape, McGill university posted in March a detailed explanation of why mass vaccination would give SARS-CoV-2 less room to evolve variants -- as opposed to the alternative of letting the virus evolve freely while burning through the population. It points out that immune escape would still remain a concern, and that vaccines may need updating if variants evolve far enough.
The McGill posting links to an article by Edward Nirenberg who systematically rebuts Geert Vanden Bossche, a leading proponent of immune-escape fears. Nirenberg explains
  • the clinical evidence for vaccine effectiveness against variants
  • current understanding of mechanisms for asymptomatic infection
  • an allegedly basic mistake by Bossche on the role of NK cells in vaccine mechanism
  • the ever-growing clinical evidence that Covid vaccines aren't "leaky" (i.e. they reduce transmission)
  • the resounding success of a leaky vaccine in managing Marek's Disease in chickens.
Nirenberg concludes: "Vaccines clearly reduce viral load, prevent severe disease, and disrupt transmission, and they can thankfully be readily modified to address problematic variants as is done every season for influenza with great effect."

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