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‘Original Antigenic Sin’ Is a Real Problem with COVID-19 Vaccinesby Jeremy R. Hammond
Jun 22, 2022
2 Scientists Have Known about “Original Antigenic Sin” for Over Half a Century
3 The Role of Pre-Existing Immunity to Common Cold Coronaviruses
4 The Accumulating Evidence of “Original Antigenic Sin” with COVID‑19 Vaccines
5 The Cognitive Dissonance of the “Public Health” Establishment
6 Original Antigenic Sin Helps Explain Negative COVID‑19 Vaccine Effectiveness
IntroductionStudies have now confirmed that “original antigenic sin”, or a detrimental fixation on a suboptimal immune response, is a real problem for people who’ve gotten COVID-19 vaccines.
There is a phenomenon in immunology known as “original antigenic sin” that studies have now confirmed to be a real problem with COVID‑19 vaccines.
In brief, what can happen is that an initial viral infection or vaccination can result in an individual’s immune system becoming fixated on generating responses to the original antigen even during subsequent infection with different strains characterized by different epitopes, or molecular structures capable of being recognized and responded to by the immune system. Thus, the immune response to a new strain can result in an inferior immune response in immunologically experienced people relative to the immune response induced by the new strain in immunologically naïve individuals.
Other terms that are sometimes used to describe this phenomenon include “viral interference”, “immune interference”, “antigenic fixation”, and “immune imprinting”.
Of course, the imprinting of an immune response to a virus is not in itself a bad thing. On the contrary, the induction of immunological “memory” to a virus is what provides long-term protection. It is only when a previously primed immune system fails to adequately adapt its responses to a newly infecting strain that the effect can be detrimental.
It is also not necessarily a question of whether original antigenic sin occurs or not; the more relevant question might be to what degree it occurs. For example, it has been observed with both natural immunity to influenza and with flu shots, but since infection induces a broader repertoire of immune responses than vaccination, natural immunity still represents an opportunity cost of vaccination.
In other words, priming the immune system by vaccination comes at the cost of the lost opportunity to prime the immune system by infection, resulting in a fixation of the immune response to subsequent infections with mutated strains that is suboptimal relative to superior natural immunity.
In fact, original antigenic sin has been hypothesized as a mechanism that could explain observations of an increased risk of illness due to the 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) virus, also known as the “swine flu”, among individuals who received the seasonal flu shot.
Policymakers eager to get jabs into arms perpetually fail to consider natural immunity as an opportunity cost of vaccination. I have long been warning that if original antigenic sin turns out to be a problem with COVID‑19 vaccines, the policy aim of achieving a high vaccination rate could result in a prolonging of the pandemic and worsening of mortality outcomes in the long run.
For instance, three months before the first COVID‑19 vaccine received emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the UN published a written statement to the UN Human Rights Council that I authored on behalf of the non-governmental organization Planetary Association for Clean Energy, Inc. (PACE). Published on September 14, 2020, as General Assembly document A/HRC/45/NGO/43, the document included the following warning about the potential risks of forcing COVID‑19 vaccines on the population:
Studies have confirmed that a detrimental fixation on a suboptimal immune response is a real problem for people who’ve gotten COVID-19 vaccines.