A new study at Emory Vaccine Center gets into the bone marrow.
- Researchers at Emory Vaccine Center looked at bone marrow to better understand antibody production.
- Due to constant mutations, identifying a "universal vaccine" has been challenging.
- The team found that blood markers are reliable indicators of what's occurring inside of bone marrow.
Why vaccines are absolutely necessary | Larry Brilliant | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7f681e7e08a6ac9cea06ae50e6bbd7b5"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ffiw6K3rjiU?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Everyone is equipped with antibody-secreting immune cells. The team at Emory first had to tease out these natural cells from antibodies produced by vaccination. Using sequencing techniques, they were able to identify endogenous antibodies.</p><p>As first author of the paper, Carl Davis, <a href="https://news.emory.edu/stories/2020/08/fluvaccine_bonemarrow_science/index.html" target="_blank">says</a>:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We could see that these new antibodies expanded in the bone marrow one month after vaccination and then contracted after one year. On the other hand, antibodies against influenza that were in the bone marrow before the vaccine was given stayed at a constant level over one year."</p><p>Entering bone marrow is simply not enough for antibodies to continue to work. They need to root there. For the 53 healthy volunteers included in this study, traditional seasonal vaccinations could not provide this type of protection. After one year, between 70-99 percent of the antibody-producing cells were gone. </p><p>All hope is not lost. Researchers working on next-generation or universal vaccines should be encouraged that certain adjuvants could bestow longer immunity. The study also shows that screening for antibodies in blood correlates with antibody activity in bone marrow, which means future researchers can more easily identify candidates for trials. </p><p>Given increasing virus mutation due to climate change, a forever flu vaccine is going to take some work. Until then, it will remain guesswork. In a year in which a devastating twindemic hovers on the horizon, we should hope public health officials guess well. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
The immune system seems able to "remember" the coronavirus, and therefore able to prevent — or minimize the severity of — reinfection.
- A handful of new studies suggest that people who had been infected with COVID-19 had "memory" T cells that were able to facilitate a unique immune response against subsequent exposure to the virus.
- "This calls for some optimism about herd immunity, and potentially a vaccine," Smita Iyer, an immunologist at the University of California, Davis told The New York Times.
- Still, many questions remain about long-term immunity.
Photo by Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images<p>But antibodies aren't the whole story. After all, antibodies are inanimate proteins, and they usually die off soon after the body battles an infection. But the immune system also has T cells and B cells. These so-called "memory" cells are able to remember a virus, and then strategically mobilize the immune system against it if it enters the body again.</p>
Graphic of immune system response
Sciencia58 via Wikipedia Commons<p>With COVID-19, these cells seem to be doing their job. How can scientists tell? For one, there's no solid evidence that people are contracting COVID-19 multiple times, despite some ambiguous reports. But more empirically: Recent <a href="https://www.cell.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0092-8674%2820%2931008-4" target="_blank">studies</a> have detected memory T cells in people who've recovered from COVID-19. And after those cells were exposed to the virus, they not only produced virus-fighting responses, <a href="https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.11.20171843v2" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">but also increased in number</a>.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This is very promising," Smita Iyer, an immunologist at the University of California, Davis told <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/16/health/coronavirus-immunity-antibodies.html?smtyp=cur&smid=fb-nytimes&fbclid=IwAR0aM3HewzICorbi3IvvrGtKdOhUkH-49oWjl9Ri416y2FUY4pOPmqz7WZg" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">The New York Times.</a> "This calls for some optimism about herd immunity, and potentially a vaccine."</p>
Kena Betancur/Getty Images<p>Also promising is the finding that strong immune responses were observed even among patients who had mild cases of COVID-19, suggesting:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...you can still get durable immunity without suffering the consequences of infection," Iyer added.</p><p>Still, scientists have much to learn about COVID-19. For example, it's unclear how long people might enjoy this kind of immune-memory protection, or whether people who suffered severe cases might be equally protected.</p><p>But the recent studies are a good sign for the researchers who are currently developing more than 1<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html" target="_blank">65 COVID-19 vaccines</a>: If the immune system is proving able to remember the virus, that should make it easier for vaccines to do their job. </p>
Fear-mongering is now a billion-dollar industry.
- The Center for Countering Digital Hate found that anti-vaxx groups reach 58 million users on social media, earning the platforms roughly $1B in revenue.
- The Center's founder, Imran Ahmed, says giving anti-vaxxers attention feeds the algorithms, further perpetuating the noise.
- In this interview with Big Think, Ahmed says the best thing we can do is offer credible information to change the algorithms.
Anti-vaxx organizations earn social media platforms $1B<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="61816eeb31c7cbe27d877e128bfe0f9d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RLh_sYoQcOo?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>When I ask Ahmed why these groups spend so much money promoting anti-vaxx disinformation, he laughs while claiming he's not a psychologist. Though he attended medical school, he focuses on the dangers that platforms pose to society. Right now, Big Tech has found a strange bedfellow in the anti-vaxx movement. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These platforms were not designed for free speech. The timeline is not about reading the most recent thing. It's an algorithmic list of content which prioritizes that information which is most engaging."</p><p>The report does reveal interesting clues on the men behind these efforts. The most influential anti-vaxx organizations are funded by osteopath Joseph Mercola, who runs a dietary supplement and medical device company and gives financial support to the National Vaccine Information Center and the Organic Consumers Association, as well as by fund manager Bernard Selz, who ponies up <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/meet-the-new-york-couple-donating-millions-to-the-anti-vax-movement/2019/06/18/9d791bcc-8e28-11e9-b08e-cfd89bd36d4e_story.html" target="_blank">three-fourths</a> of the money that supports the Informed Action Consent Network. </p><p>Mercola is easy: he uses fear-mongering to sell supplements, which has put <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2019/10/15/fdc01078-c29c-11e9-b5e4-54aa56d5b7ce_story.html" target="_blank">over $100 million</a> into his bank account. Since the start of the pandemic, Mercola has <a href="https://cspinet.org/news/fda-and-ftc-urged-bring-enforcement-proceedings-against-joseph-mercola-false-covid-19-health" target="_blank">claimed</a> at least 22 vitamins and supplements prevent or cure COVID-19. Vaccines misinformation is just one of his techniques. Previously, he's stated that microwaves <a href="https://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/February-2012/Dr-Joseph-Mercola-Visionary-or-Quack/" target="_blank">alters the chemistry</a> of food, mobile phones <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/19/style/could-wearable-computers-be-as-harmful-as-cigarettes.html?_r=0" target="_blank">cause cancer</a>, and pasteurized milk <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dairy-free-avoid-this-pop_b_558447?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9lbi53aWtpcGVkaWEub3JnLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAAKYhB9iAA7Z_l2vMSqfdiwu42fiyF6r9asuq5lPTmvIbKgFYfC2NRCEip0JkogItFeBfX24HT5qV-BehIpkIwSrHVLzAlSBUtKnyUeW_MXJSTQDk_hMU1xtt8aexggDmH7gFnMa-ItiTD35ndBo1EVU1GIeuZgD5cOWfZlPRkWr" target="_blank">causes negative health effects</a>.</p><p>Selz is harder to <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/meet-the-new-york-couple-donating-millions-to-the-anti-vax-movement/2019/06/18/9d791bcc-8e28-11e9-b08e-cfd89bd36d4e_story.html" target="_blank">figure out</a>. His philanthropic work is extensive thanks to his management of a $500 million fund. His anti-vaxx efforts, including $1.6 million given to discredited physician Andrew Wakefield, which he used to fund the movement's opus, "Vaxxed," appear to be a passion project. Since the Selz family avoids media contact, other reasons may be obscured. </p><p>Anti-vaxx sentiment is not new, but social media has given it steroids. As Ahmed notes, anti-vaxxers use the same tactics as other hate groups: don't trust authorities; disseminate conspiracy theories to create confusion; claim to be the sole authority on a topic. </p><p>Shortly after quarantine began, health misinformation actors merged with a hardcore group of committed anti-vaxxers to create what Ahmed calls "a coalition of chaos." Over the preceding months, this coalition has tested out a number of ideas: 5G causes COVID-19, which had a moment and then faded; track and trace is part of a global effort to microchip you, which never really caught on; and coronavirus vaccines are part of an elite capitalist conspiracy. The latter is persistent and having real-world consequences.</p>
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), holds up a model of COVID-19, known as coronavirus, during a US Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the plan to research, manufacture and distribute a coronavirus vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed, July 2, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images<p>Vaccine hesitancy in the UK is around 30 percent, according to Ahmed. In the U.S., he pegs it at 40 percent, though <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/just-50-americans-plan-get-covid-19-vaccine-here-s-how-win-over-rest" target="_blank">one poll</a> found that only half of Americans are confident that they'll get a vaccine (if one is created). Enter the danger: herd immunity is different for every virus, though certainly over 50 percent. Ahmed says that confusion over a COVID-19 vaccine could result in the loss of tens of thousands of lives.<br></p><p>As more people turn to social media for medical advice, Ahmed reminds us that platforms are part of the problem. You might think you're doing a public service by debating your anti-vaxxer friend. In reality, you're confirming algorithmic bias.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The biggest mistake we've made is thinking that public opinion will change their views. Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Google don't care about your opinion, because you're not their customer. You're their product." </p><p>Change agents target weak points, such as advertisers. Ahmed suggests a ruthless, sustained push, similar to the <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/01/tech/facebook-top-advertisers/index.html" target="_blank">orchestrated effort</a> that resulted in hundreds of brands pulling advertising from Facebook and Instagram. This month-long boycott is over unenforced hate speech policies. </p><p>Far from bucking the system, anti-vaxxers are fueling the capitalist greed they claim to decry. Discussing anti-vaxx sentiments, Eula Biss writes in "On Immunity" that, "wealthier nations have the luxury of entertaining fears the rest of the world cannot afford." She compares vaccine refusal as a form of civil disobedience to the trappings of capitalism: anti-vaxxers are more like the 1 percent than the 99 percent. They're looking out for their own self-interest instead of the good of the herd, relying on propaganda promoted by wealthy donors with vested interests as their "research." </p><p>This coalition of chaos, in cahoots with the platforms they fund, is capitalizing on vaccine disinformation. The farther from science they lead us, the better. The more enraged we become, the more attention they capture, which is where this new economy thrives.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Despite fact check campaigns, anti-vaccination influence is growing.
- Despite announcing plans to combat disinformation, anti-vax groups continue to gain influence on Facebook.
- An analysis of over 1,300 Facebook pages with 100 million followers shows that anti-vaccination agendas are having a profound impact.
- Only 50 percent of Americans are certain they'll receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Facebook announces plan to 'tackle vaccine misinformation'<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="997c512b8b8afcd4db98fdb7ece75680"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZTZ3Lq67yiY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>This trend is having real-world consequences. Only <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/just-50-americans-plan-get-covid-19-vaccine-here-s-how-win-over-rest" target="_blank">half of Americans</a> are willing to get a coronavirus vaccine, with a quarter wavering and a quarter against. While we should be confident of efficacy—gossip about a <a href="https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200511/covid-19_vaccine_by_fall_possible_but_at_what_cost" target="_blank">vaccine arriving in the Fall</a> is ambitious and potentially unsafe—the idea that a quarter of the country will refuse any vaccine is a potential public health disaster (as if we're not experiencing one now).</p><p>Making matters worse, we can't fight disinformation with data. No matter how many articles <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/the-plandemic" target="_self">debunk Plandemic</a>, Mikki Willis gains momentum. Do <a href="https://www.facebook.com/mikki.willis/posts/2875973472513592" target="_blank">27,000 doctors</a> really support his efforts to "reform our corrupt global healthcare systems?" There's no way to tell, but that's the thing about Facebook: it doesn't have to be true. Willis's claim, which he made in conjunction with a fundraising effort for the film, has been shared 4.4k times. Convincing his fanbase that perhaps tens of thousands of doctors aren't on board will be a Herculean task. </p><p>Media Matters notes the official-sounding National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), which, though sounding governmental, opposes every effort to vaccinate children. Beginning in February, the organization's website started publishing a "<a href="https://www.nvic.org/vaccines-and-diseases/Reports/covid-19.aspx" target="_blank">special report</a>" on COVID-19, laying the groundwork for vaccination disinformation. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The first three installments of the 'special report' adopt right-wing themes unrelated to vaccines, such as the claim that public health orders that promote social distancing result in a 'loss of civil liberties' and subject Americans to 'quarantine shaming.' The fourth installment, published on March 29, includes the first attacks on vaccine development in the series … The fifth installment of the 'special report,' published on April 1, frames the vaccine development efforts of pharmaceutical companies and other entities as a cash grab."</p>
A truck with writing "JESUS IS MY VACCINE" drives by demonstrators rallying outside the Pennsylvania Capitol Building to protest the continued closure of businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic on May 15, 2020 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images<p>The irony is that NVIC's Facebook page is listed as an "Educational Research Center." Just today the organization posted about the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831678/" target="_blank">long-disproven link between the measles vaccine and autism</a> (via Robert F. Kennedy's anti-vax organization, Children's Health Defense), <a href="https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/wxevj5/the-coronavirus-truthers-dont-believe-in-public-health" target="_blank">opportunist Joseph Mercola</a>'s questioning whether the COVID-19 surge in Texas has anything to do with the novel coronavirus, and conspiracy theory-rich GreenMedInfo, whose founder traffics in ridiculous ideas, such as <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1720256541450732" target="_blank">germ theory being false</a>. </p><p>And so here we are: instead of reporting on pressing global issues, Reuters has to <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-metal-strip-medical-masks-5/fact-check-metal-strip-in-medical-masks-is-not-a-5g-antenna-idUSKBN24A2O1?fbclid=IwAR2nqo5OaXP3unV7v3jOhtdGY5JjivJgyBSqrKcW0pcEJfhdGWieDb1K5C8" target="_blank">fact check</a> whether the metal strip in face masks is really a 5G antenna or if Wayfair is <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-wayfair-human-trafficking/fact-check-no-evidence-linking-wayfair-to-human-trafficking-operation-idUSKCN24E2M2" target="_blank">involved in human trafficking</a>. (The woman that posted the "medical doctor" video above is convinced Amazon is involved as well.) No matter how ridiculous these sound—and they should, to any functioning adult—common sense is losing ground: an <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/vaccine-opponents-are-gaining-facebook-battle-hearts-and-minds-new-map-shows" target="_blank">analysis</a> of over 1,300 Facebook pages with 100 million followers shows that anti-vax agendas are becoming more influential.</p><p>When the printing press was first invented, <a href="https://apple.news/Agz3WmeyWTEKLg-9yHo2BMA" target="_blank">anyone could hire a printer</a>. The idea of objective news took some time to work out, and it is questionable that it ever did get worked out. But we're in a truly disturbing place when one of the most effective therapeutics ever discovered—the <a href="https://www.tmrjournals.com/tmr/EN/abstract/abstract321.shtml" target="_blank">millennia-old idea</a> of allowing the body to build up immunity by introducing a small dose of an offending agent—is being used as, what? A political tool? An ideological battering ram? An apocalyptic battle song sung by the woke as they laugh at all the silly sheeple? </p><p>It's impossible to tell what the end game is. Being contrarian is now its own currency. Whether or not your agenda accomplishes anything is secondary to just being on the team—a participation trophy for simply showing up. Putting in the intellectual and emotional effort demanded by the complex and nuanced realm of science is proving too much for America to tolerate. When a nation descends into such intolerance, anything becomes possible. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
A new study suggests that an old tuberculosis vaccine may reduce the severity of coronavirus cases.
- A new study finds a tuberculosis BCG vaccination is linked to its COVID-19 mortality rate.
- More BCG vaccinations are connected to fewer severe coronavirus cases in East Germany.
- The study is preliminary and more research is needed to support the findings.
Professor Luis Escobar
Credit: Virginia Tech