AMIDST the sound and the fury of exchanges over the internet and mass media regarding the pros and cons of mass vaccination comes an urgent call from a known epidemiologist and advocate for containment of the pandemic -- Geert Vanden Bossche, DMV, PhD, independent virologist, and vaccine expert, formerly employed at GAVI and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In an Open Letter to the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Vanden Bossche made this impelling warning: “I am all but an anti-vaxxer. As a scientist, I do not usually appeal to any platform of this kind to make a stand on vaccine-related topics. As a dedicated virologist and vaccine expert, I only make an exception when health authorities allow vaccines to be administered in ways that threaten public health, most certainly when scientific evidence is being ignored. The present extremely critical situation forces me to spread this emergency call. As the unprecedented extent of human intervention in the Covid-19 pandemic is now at risk of resulting in a global catastrophe without equal, this call cannot sound loud and strong enough.”
As Dr. Bossche clarified in his Open Letter to the WHO and the scientific community, he is not against vaccination. On the contrary, he assures the readers that each of the current vaccines has been designed, developed, and manufactured by brilliant and competent scientists. However, these types of prophylactic vaccines “are completely inappropriate, and even highly dangerous, when used in mass vaccination campaigns during a viral pandemic. Vaccinologists, scientists and clinicians he avers, “are blinded by the positive short-term effects in individual patients, but don’t seem to bother about the disastrous consequences for global health." Unless he writes, he is scientifically proven wrong, “it is difficult to understand how current human interventions will prevent circulating variants from turning into a wild monster.”
Racing in his sense, “against the clock,” he at the time of his Open Letter was completing his scientific manuscript, the “publication of which is, unfortunately, likely to come too late given the ever-increasing threat from rapidly spreading, highly infectious variants”. As an immediate measure, he posted a summary of his findings as well as his keynote speech at the recent Vaccine Summit in Ohio on LinkedIn (Author: Geert Vanden Bossche, DVM, Ph.D. March 6, 2021 -- https://www.linkedin.com/in/geertvandenbossche.
In his slides which I accessed, Dr. Bossche provided international health organizations, including the WHO, with his analysis of the current pandemic as based on scientifically informed insights in the immune biology of Covid-19. Given the level of his perceived emergency, he urged them to consider his concerns and to initiate a debate on the detrimental consequences of further “viral immune escape.”
Tragically, while in Bossche’s view “there is no time to spare,” he has not received any feedback. Experts and politicians alike have remained silent, while talks about relaxing infection prevention rules and “springtime freedom” abound. Yet, as he laments his statements “are based on nothing else but science. They shall only be contradicted by science.”
While one can barely make any incorrect scientific statements without being criticized by peers, he avows that, “the elite of scientists who are currently advising our world leaders prefer to stay silent...(though) sufficient scientific evidence has been brought to the table.” Bossche’s warnings and study remain untouched by those who have the power to act. He posed this burning question, “How long can one ignore the problem when there is at present massive evidence that viral immune escape is now threatening humanity?”
Our own IATF and health authorities can hardly say, “We didn't know -- or were not warned.” In his agonizing letter in which Bossche claims, he put all of his reputation and credibility at stake, he challenges: “I expect from you, guardians of mankind, at least the same. It is of utmost urgency. Do open the debate. By all means: turn the tide!”
In this column, I have tried to continue the debate, now it’s your turn to popularize this important issue on your own platform, whether it be social media or your own network of friends.