COVID Counterpunch

Herd Immunity Unlikely, Vaccine Profits Guaranteed

Image by Arek Socha

In recent days, some public health experts have stated that the U.S. is unlikely to reach herd immunity, and instead COVID may become endemic in the population.

According to The New York Times and CNN, experts cite vaccine hesitancy and unvaccinated young people as the main barriers to herd immunity.

But is this really the case, or just manipulative messaging to get “shots in arms”?

Unlike smallpox or DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis) vaccines, none of the current COVID vaccines provide sterilizing immunity¹, meaning they don’t actually prevent infection or transmission of the virus. This is a common misconception about the COVID vaccines: they do limit the severity of your reaction to the virus if you contract it, but they don’t prevent those who are vaccinated from passing on the virus, hence the recommendations for continued masking and social distancing for vaccinated individuals.

Experts are signaling that the current vaccine strategy will not end the virus, but it’s not just due to people who are hesitant to accept an experimental vaccine for themselves or their children. There is growing concern among some experts that the vaccines themselves could make COVID harder to control and even more dangerous.

When people contract COVID, the virus evolves and mutates. This is also true of people who have been vaccinated, but additionally, the vaccine puts specific selection pressures on the virus that would otherwise not exist. In the absence of a global pandemic, this is not a huge problem. But in the midst of millions of active infections, and fast moving variants, vaccine intervention may lead to even more contagious, deadly, and vaccine-resistant variants of the virus.

Have we entered an arms race by interfering with the pandemic via vaccine? It’s too soon to know. It may be so, and we might be constantly chasing variants of our own making, all the while being pressured to keep injecting vaccines whose short-term side effects are only beginning to be revealed, and whose long term impacts remain unknown.

In the meantime, Pfizer is on track to make $26 billion this year on vaccine.


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