Rob Rennebohm, MD
March 23, 2023
The main purpose of this article is to analyze why Dr. Vanden Bossche’s understandings, hypotheses, and concerns about the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign have received little attention—at least within the medical establishment and conventional media. None of the leaders of the prevailing COVID-19 narrative (e.g., at the CDC, NIH, WHO) has even mentioned Dr. Vanden Bossche or discussed his concerns—at least not publicly. The conventional media (at least in the USA, Canada, and most of Europe) have never mentioned Dr. Vanden Bossche or his concerns.
Fundamental principles of medicine and science:
A fundamental principle of Medicine is to consider all plausible explanations for observed phenomena. For example, all plausible explanations for an individual patient’s illness are considered before a most likely diagnosis is declared. Likewise, all plausible explanations for the cause of a given disease process (the pathogenesis of a disease) are considered before declaring a most likely pathogenesis.
Once all plausible explanations (hypotheses) have been imagined, each is carefully evaluated, and the possibilities are ranked according to which explanations are most likely to be closest to the truth, or at least most important to further consider. Regarding the latter, cancer might not be the most likely diagnosis in a patient complaining of fatigue and weight loss but cancer needs to at least be considered and ruled out, because of the consequences of a missed or delayed diagnosis of malignancy.
The most likely and most important hypotheses are then thoughtfully tested, to confirm or determine which hypothesis holds up the best.
The above process increases the likelihood of arriving at the best possible understanding of diagnosis, pathogenesis, and pathophysiology.
A closely related fundamental principle of Medicine is that the process of making a correct diagnosis, or arriving at a best possible understanding of pathophysiology, benefits from constructive, respectful scientific dialogue among physicians and other scientists—not only in-person communication but also communication through the medical literature. For example, the likelihood of correctly diagnosing a complex illness increases if careful consultation and discussion among physicians occurs; and the study of disease processes is more successful if many scientists collaborate and provide input.
Medical mistakes are made and scientific progress is slowed when the above two fundamental principles are not honored.
Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns about the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign:
According to the leaders of the prevailing COVID-19 narrative and its mass vaccination campaign, the COVID-19 pandemic is currently subsiding, coming under good control, heading into a relatively harmless endemic phase, and can be kept under control with continued mass vaccination. According to these leaders, the COVID-19 vaccines have been “extremely safe and effective,” have contributed greatly to the taming of the pandemic, and have “saved millions of lives.” These leaders have been impatient with “the unvaccinated” and have been disappointed with “vaccine hesitancy” and the low percentage of “eligible” people who have not gotten booster doses. Although a total of approximately 12 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been administered to the world’s 8 billion people, the promoters of the vaccination campaign want more people to become fully vaccinated and periodically boosted.
Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche strongly disagrees with the above opinions. In his recent book, entitled The Inescapable Immune Escape Pandemic, Dr. Vanden Bossche provides a comprehensive in depth analysis of the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign: https://www.voiceforscienceandsolidarity.org/scientific-blog/the-inescapable-immune-escape-pandemic. In particular, he explains his hypotheses regarding the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign on the human immune ecosystem—at both a population level and an individual level. He explains how the mass vaccination campaign has prolonged the pandemic by turning it into an “immune escape pandemic.” He has provided a cogent scientific explanation of how the vaccination campaign has, predictably, disturbed the immune ecosystem and made the pandemic more dangerous. (Later in this article, I have summarized 19 key aspects of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s analysis.)
He explains that we have (in recent months) been experiencing a falsely reassuring “calm before the storm.” He is deeply concerned that a surge, due to the natural selection and dominant propagation of a SARS-CoV-2 variant with enhanced virulence, is highly likely, is imminent, and will likely result in a catastrophic number of hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among the vaccinated, particularly in the most highly vaccinated countries. He thinks this precarious state is due to the COVID mass vaccination campaign itself and would not have occurred in the absence of this campaign. He urges all to prepare for a potentially catastrophic surge.
Dr. Vanden Bossche’s hypotheses are based on an uncommonly deep understanding of the immunology, virology, vaccinology, evolutionary biology, glycosylation biology, physical chemistry, epidemiology, and immune system ecology involved in the COVID-19 situation. His hypotheses are not only plausible, but they appear to be the most accurate hypotheses yet proposed, and they have profound consequences, if correct. At the very least, his hypotheses are among the most important to consider—because, if his hypotheses are correct, catastrophic results can be anticipated and proactive plans can be made to minimize hospitalizations and deaths. Dr. Vanden Bossche has repeatedly called for constructive scientific dialogue regarding the hypotheses he has developed.
Despite Dr. Vanden Bossche’s efforts to provide important and highly plausible hypotheses for consideration, his hypotheses have been almost completely ignored by the medical establishment—specifically, by the leaders and promoters of the prevailing COVID-19 narrative and its mass vaccination campaign. The vast majority of physicians have either been unaware of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns or have ignored them. In addition, the leaders and key promoters of the prevailing COVID-19 narrative have shown no interest in engaging in any scientific dialogue about the hypotheses Dr. Vanden Bossche has contributed. In other words, the two fundamental principles mentioned at the beginning of this article have not been honored; they have not been practiced.
Why have practicing physicians paid so little attention to Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns?
In a spirit of considering all plausible explanations, one possible explanation for the absence of attention to Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns is that many physicians, particularly the leaders of the prevailing narrative, may think that Dr. Vanden Bossche’s understandings are so scientifically unsound and so off base that they are not worthy of consideration, comment, or mention. But another possibility is that the leaders, promoters, and followers of the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign might have incorrect understandings of the science involved and have, thereby, erred in ignoring Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns. It is certainly plausible that their understanding of the immunology, virology, vaccinology, evolutionary biology, and immune system ecology is not as deep as Dr. Vanden Bossche’s and that this has resulted in their not understanding the COVID situation as deeply and accurately as Dr. Vanden Bossche has understood it.
Most practicing physicians (perhaps more than 95%) either do not understand Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns or disagree with him—if they have even heard of him. Even physicians who have strongly opposed the prevailing COVID-19 narrative and its mass vaccination campaign (because they do not think the COVID-19 vaccines have been safe, effective, or necessary) have been hesitant to agree with and/or support Dr. Vanden Bossche’s warning that a highly virulent SC-2 variant will inevitably emerge, become dominant, and cause a catastrophic number of hospitalizations and deaths.
Why do most physicians (including those who specialize in immunology, virology, and vaccinology) not support Dr. Vanden Bossche’s understandings and warnings—at least not publicly? Are they simply unaware of Dr. Vanden Bossche and his concerns? If aware of him, do they know things that he does not know or has overlooked? Or does Dr. Vanden Bossche understand things that most physicians do not fully understand or have overlooked?
Why is there such great discrepancy between Dr. Vanden Bossche’s understanding of the COVID-19 situation and the understanding voiced by the leaders of the prevailing narrative? How is the general public, and how are physicians in general, supposed to know whose understanding is more scientifically accurate?
If Dr. Vanden Bossche is correct, what might most physicians be mis-understanding or overlooking? What gaps in their knowledge of immunology, virology, vaccinology, evolutionary biology, glycosylation biology, physical-chemistry, epidemiology, and immune system ecology might be preventing them from understanding the likely accuracy, or at least the importance and certainly the plausibility, of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s hypotheses and concerns?
What specific scientific concepts might the leaders, promoters, and followers of the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign be inadequately or incorrectly understanding? What scientific insights might they be missing?
When I have discussed Dr. Vanden Bossche’s insights and concerns with other physicians and other scientists, I have noticed that they either summarily disagree with and quickly dismiss his analysis, or do not seem to fully understand his analysis, or are unaware of his analysis. I have the impression that if they had a better understanding of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s analysis, they would be much more open to and supportive of his concerns.
Below I have listed 19 key aspects of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s analysis that many physicians might, at least in part, be under-appreciating. Of course, it is certainly possible that some parts of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s understandings might prove to be at least partially incorrect. But his understandings and hypotheses are certainly plausible, and it is likely that they are the best explanations put forth so far. They absolutely warrant consideration and evaluation, and they absolutely deserve to be subjects of healthy, respectful scientific dialogue. And, yet, the leaders and promoters of the mass vaccination campaign have not engaged in consideration of or dialogue about Dr. Vanden Bossche’s hypotheses.
Here are 19 key concepts that Dr. Vanden Bossche explains:
- It is a huge mistake to try to end an active pandemic like the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing, in the midst of that pandemic, a mass vaccination campaign (across all age groups) that uses vaccines (like the COVID-19 vaccines) that do not adequately prevent replication and transmission of the circulating virus, do not produce sterilizing immunity, and, thereby, do not contribute to herd immunity.
- Such a campaign puts tremendous immune pressure on the circulating virus, at a population level, and predictably results in a prolonged series of new dominant SARS-CoV-2 (SC-2) variants, each being more infectious and more vaccine-resistant than its predecessors; and is highly likely to eventually result in the emergence of an SC-2 variant that is more virulent than all predecessors. This is due to the predictable natural selection and dominant propagation of viral variants that are able to “escape” the intense immune pressures placed on the virus by the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign and, thereby, become dominant variants—because these variants are more “fit” and, thereby, have a competitive advantage over less fit variants. The result is an “immune escape pandemic” that is more prolonged, more dangerous, and cumulatively claims more lives than if the same pandemic had been managed without such a mass vaccination campaign.
- In the history of Medicine, we have never before treated a pandemic in the way we have treated the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we have never vaccinated a majority of the world’s population (80-90% in many countries) in the midst of an active pandemic. This is the first pandemic that has been treated with a mass vaccination campaign in the midst of the active pandemic. We have never done this before.
- The COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign has, predictably, resulted in an abnormal evolution of the virus and an abnormal evolution of the immunologic response to the virus. That is, the virus has evolved in ways that it would not have evolved in the absence of the mass vaccination campaign, and the immune system has been forced to do things it would not need to do in the absence of such a campaign.
- Because the above process is so different from what normally occurs during an active pandemic that is not treated with a mass vaccination campaign (in the midst of the pandemic), and because this is the first time we have treated a pandemic in this way, lessons learned from past pandemics do not necessarily apply to what is occurring during this pandemic. That is, new phenomena that we have never seen before have occurred during this COVID-19 pandemic, because of the mass vaccination campaign.
- Polyreactive non-neutralizing antibodies (PNNAbs) induced by the COVID-19 vaccines cause conformational changes in the spike protein that result in the SARS-CoV-2 (SC-2) virus becoming more infectious (better able to enter host cells through the ACE-2 receptor). That is, the PNNAbs are infection-enhancing. This, by the way, is different from the classical antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) that occurs following Fc receptor-mediated uptake of opsonized pathogens (or immune complexes) by macrophages.
- These same PNNAbs have a virulence-inhibiting effect. That is, these PNNAbs attach to virus that is tethered to dendritic cells, and this prevents virus from being released from dendritic cells that have migrated down to the lower respiratory tract. In this way, the PNNAbs provide partial protection against disease severity and death when the virus breaks through vaccine-induced immunity and thereby causes a vaccine breakthrough infection (VBTI) .
- The mass vaccination campaign has been causing “steric immune refocusing (SIR).” This is a newly appreciated phenomenon that has not been seen (or at least not recognized) in past pandemics, because past pandemics have never been treated with mass vaccination (in the midst of those active pandemics). This SIR phenomenon is triggered by VBTIs and results in SIR-related broad-spectrum neutralizing antibodies against conserved, subdominant regions of the spike protein. Understandably, most physicians have never heard of SIR.
- To a significant and abnormal extent, MHC class 1-unrestricted cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) have been mobilized by the immune system to deal with the frequent breakthrough infections associated with the mass vaccination campaign. These CTLs have been protective. They kill virus infected cells and thwart viral transmission. But over-reliance on these CTLs leads to immune exhaustion and immune dysregulation and is unhealthy and unsustainable. The field of immunology has developed an extensive understanding of MHC-restricted CTLs but its understanding of MHC-unrestricted CTLs is only in its infancy. Most physicians have little or no knowledge of MHC class 1-unrestricted cytolytic T lymphocytes.
- The innate immune system is extraordinarily important. NK cells, normally, are capable of reducing the bulk of the initial viral load. Their contribution is paramount to controlling viral transmission during a pandemic. Unfortunately, non-replicating vaccines (e.g., COVID-19 vaccines) and VBTIs sideline the cell-based innate immune system. The field of immunology has developed an extensive understanding of the adaptive immune system, but its understanding and appreciation of the innate immune system is still in its infancy.
- The COVID-19 vaccines do not contribute to herd immunity. In fact, as they are deployed during a pandemic, they drive natural selection and dominance of more infectious variants and thereby prevent development of herd immunity. In contrast, immunity acquired via natural infection is sterilizing immunity and contributes to herd immunity.
- Viral pandemics like the COVID-19 pandemic end only when herd immunity is achieved—i.e., when a sufficiently high percentage of the population develops sterilizing immunity.
- The current apparent easing of the pandemic (the lowered levels of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths over the past several months) is not a sign that the pandemic is subsiding and heading into an endemic phase. But how can variants that are more infectious and resistant to vaccine-induced potentially neutralizing antibodies mitigate the course of the pandemic? This apparent improvement of the COVID-19 situation (since emergence of Omicron variants) has been due to enhanced training of innate cell-based immunity in the COVID-19 unvaccinated and the combination (in the COVID-19 vaccinated) of the virulence-inhibiting effect of the PNNAbs, the protective effect of MHC-unrestricted CTLs, and the protection provided by SIR-related broad-spectrum neutralizing antibodies against conserved, subdominant regions of the spike protein. Unfortunately, all three of these protective measures in the vaccinated are suboptimal (i.e., are not supported by adequate T help), are putting the virus under tremendous immune pressure at a population level, and will inevitably be overcome by the virus. These three protective phenomena are temporary, fragile, and unsustainable.
- When an active pandemic is treated with a mass vaccination campaign (which has never been done before) COVID-19 vaccines have a suboptimal effect; this has prompted the emergence and dominance of more infectious variants (due to population-level immune pressure exerted by neutralizing antibodies) and will eventually promote the emergence of more virulent variants (due to population-level immune pressure exerted by non-neutralizing antibodies) when the immune system dampens viral shedding and thereby thwarts transmission from person to person. Such thwarting of transmission results in the natural selection and dominant propagation of variants that are able to overcome the virulence-inhibiting effect of the PNNAbs. An active pandemic that is not treated with such a vaccination campaign does not generate highly infectious immune escape variants (e.g. Omicron) and therefore does not provoke large-scale VBTIs that entail SIR. Large-scale immune escape triggered by SIR ultimately causes highly vaccinated populations to exert immune pressure on viral virulence. None of these phenomena has ever been described in the case of a natural pandemic.
- By overcoming the virulence inhibiting effect of the PNNAbs, the new variant is able to infect (and propagate within) distant organs, including but not limited to the lower respiratory tract. By propagating within the very body of its natural host, the virus becomes less dependent on propagation via transmission from person to person (which is being thwarted).
- The new variant that is capable of overcoming the virulence-inhibiting effect of the PNNAbs will have that capacity because of adaptive changes (mutations) in the glycosylation characteristics of its spike glycoprotein, not because of mutations in the peptides of the spike glycoprotein. This is why knowledge of glycosylation biology is important.
- The above-mentioned cascade of adverse changes in the immune ecosystem and in the virus would not have occurred in the absence of the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign. If the COVID-19 pandemic had not been managed with the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign and, instead, had been managed by common sense protective measures and reliance on the immune system to do what it knows to do, the following would have occurred: The innate immune system would have been free to train so as to provide its optimal and great degree of broad protection. The adaptive immune system would have developed appropriate and effective antibodies to the virus. Trained innate immunity or the combination of trained innate immunity and antigen-specific antibodies would have generated sterilizing immunity in those people who had become significantly infected. This would have eventuated in herd immunity, which, in turn, would have prevented dominant propagation of more infectious mutants and ended the pandemic within 1-2 years, depending on public health policies (e.g., Africa compared to China). Dominant propagation of more infectious immune-escape variants would not have occurred. Hence, Omicron would not have emerged, and PNNAb-mediated enhancement of infection would, therefore, not have occurred to a significantly harmful degree. Breakthrough infections would have been far less common and would not have led to SIR. Dominant SARS-CoV-2 (SC-2) variants would not become more virulent than predecessors. And the immune ecosystem would not only have been left intact, but would have become better trained (through practice) to flexibly deal with new SC-2 variants and future similar viruses. The human immune ecosystem would have been left healthy, versatile, and able to optimally carry out all of its many protective and regulatory functions.
- History (if high quality data collection is permitted and is allowed to be presented honestly) will reveal that the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign has transformed the initial COVID-19 pandemic (which, in terms of health impact, was no more worrisome than an influenza epidemic of slightly above-average severity) into a much more prolonged and dangerous COVID-19 “immune escape pandemic” that is now fully out of control and will cumulatively claim far more lives than the COVID-19 pandemic would have claimed if the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign had never been implemented. Although the leaders of the prevailing narrative repeatedly claim that the mass vaccination campaign has saved millions of lives (thereby justifying the “very rare” vaccine-related adverse events suffered on an individual basis), the truth is that it will cumulatively cause more death and misery than would have occurred in the absence of such a campaign. Stated in other words: in March 2020 the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic (due to the original Wuhan strain) was grossly over-stated, leading to excessive fears; and in March 2023 the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic (due to current and eventual variants) is being grossly understated, leading to insufficient concern.
- In addition to the population level concerns raised by Dr. Vanden Bossche, there are great concerns about the adverse events (vaccine injuries) experienced by vaccinated people on an individual basis—-for example, myocarditis, neurological sequelae, life-threatening clotting, sudden death. The population-level concerns, by themselves, provide sufficient reason to shut down the mass vaccination campaign. The individual-level concerns, by themselves, provide additional reason to shut down the campaign. Together, they provide sufficient evidence that the mass vaccination campaign has represented one of the greatest blunders in the history of medicine.
Based on all of the above, it is not exaggerated to label the COVID-19 mass vaccination program the most harmful experiment ever conducted on the human species.
At the very least, it is essential that leaders and key promoters of the prevailing COVID-19 narrative and its mass vaccination campaign give due consideration to Dr. Vanden Bossche’s hypotheses and engage in open and honest scientific dialogue to determine the extent to which Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns are accurate and important. Such consideration and dialogue would be in keeping with the two fundamental principles of medicine mentioned at the beginning of this article. The promoters of the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign have failed to consider all plausible hypotheses and have refused to engage in scientific dialogue. They have allowed only one narrative and have threatened those who have challenged that narrative. This behavior has been scientifically and morally irresponsible and has grossly violated and dishonored two of the most important fundamental principles of medicine and science.
If the above-listed components of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s analysis were better understood, then the vast majority of practicing physicians would likely agree that Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns need to, at least, be taken seriously—or at least need to be thoroughly and openly discussed. Unfortunately, many (most?) physicians do not even know about Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns, much less understand their importance.
Why have practicing physicians not optimally understood and addressed Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns?
- Most physicians have assumed and trusted that the leaders and main promoters of the prevailing COVID narrative and its mass vaccination campaign (CDC, NIH, WHO, the US COVID-19 Task Force, medical school academics who have supported the prevailing narrative, etc.) have a deep understanding of immunology, virology, vaccinology, evolutionary biology, glycosylation biology, physical chemistry, epidemiology, and immune system ecology; know what they are doing; are properly motivated; and are doing their best to “do the right thing.” But, unfortunately, it is likely that very few (if any) of those trusted individuals and institutions adequately understand, adequately appreciate, or are adequately aware of the understandings, concerns, and warnings of Dr. Vanden Bossche.
- Most practicing physicians have humbly assumed that their own knowledge of immunology, virology, and vaccinology is far less than that of the leaders and promoters of the prevailing narrative. Accordingly, but unfortunately, they have not been inclined to question the prevailing narrative and its mass vaccination campaign. It is easier to trust and accept the pronouncements of the “experts.”
- Most practicing physicians, including many of the prominent promoters of the prevailing narrative, have insufficient knowledge of immunology, virology, and vaccinology. This renders them inadequately able to evaluate and appreciate the importance of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns and warnings.
- Although the field of immunology has learned a great deal about the adaptive arm of the immune system, far less has been learned about the innate arm of the immune system. Dr. Vanden Bossche has been deeply studying the innate arm of the immune system and has a greater understanding of its importance and mechanisms of action than do most immunologists/vaccinologists.
- Because the quality of clinical data collection has been astonishingly low throughout the pandemic, it has been difficult for practicing physicians to evaluate the true severity of the pandemic and the true efficacy and safety of the vaccines.
- Furthermore, the leaders and promoters of the prevailing COVID-19 narrative and its mass vaccination campaign have gone to great lengths to prevent the general public and physicians in general from learning about the 19 concepts listed above.
- They have been unwilling to engage in healthy scientific dialogue. Healthy, respectful scientific dialogue has been absent.
- Physicians and scientists who have responsibly and knowledgably challenged the prevailing narrative have been demonized and portrayed as deplorable purveyors of misinformation and disinformation. Some have been censored. Some have lost their license to practice medicine, had their hospital privileges stripped, or have otherwise been threatened. Many have been intimidated into silence and compliance.
- If the leaders of the prevailing narrative and its mass vaccination campaign were to engage in a video-archived dialogue with Dr. Vanden Bossche, in my opinion it would be obvious to viewers (including PhD-level immunologists viewing the dialogue) that Dr. Vanden Bossche’s understandings of immunology, virology, vaccinology, evolutionary biology, glycosylation biology, physical chemistry, epidemiology, and immune system ecology are far deeper and more experienced than the understandings of any of the scientists and physicians who have been promoting the mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
- For a variety of reasons, physicians have not done their own homework. Instead, they have simply trusted, accepted, and followed what the leaders of the prevailing narrative have recommended, and they have dutifully dismissed challenges to the prevailing narrative (like Dr. Vanden Bossche’s challenge) as “misinformation” (if they are even aware of Dr. Vanden Bossche). This represents dangerous and unscientific physician behavior.
For the above reasons, it is not surprising that most physicians have not been open to serious consideration of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s understandings, conclusions, and warnings—if they are even aware of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s writings and interviews.
Dr. Vanden Bossche’s scientifically sound understandings, concerns, and warnings about the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign have received inadequate attention. A major reason for this is that the leaders, promoters, and followers of the mass vaccination campaign have not adequately appreciated (or have ignored) the complexity of normal interactions between the virus and the immune system, at the population level, and have not adequately appreciated how these complex interactions can be adversely affected when mass vaccination with a suboptimal vaccine (like the COVID-19 vaccines) occurs in the midst of an active pandemic.
Unfortunately, this lack of awareness and understanding of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s concerns will likely result in citizens and the health care system being caught by surprise and being ill-prepared when/if a surge of a highly virulent variant occurs. Citizens and their physicians need and deserve to be fully informed of Dr. Vanden Bossche’s scientifically sound concerns, so that they can optimally prepare for such a surge. Violation of the two fundamental principles mentioned at the beginning of this article has greatly interfered with citizens and their physicians becoming sufficiently informed and prepared.
Rob Rennebohm, MD