It is now obvious that the COVID vaccines now routinely administered to just about everybody willing to take them has not stopped infection by and spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Data from the CDC show that deaths from the virus occur more often in vaccinated subjects than in those that have not received the vaccine.
Emerging Vaccine-Breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 Variants from Michigan State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago examines the reasons why the virus evades the vaccine. The abstract from the paper is below. I’ve put the key conclusions in bold. The entire paper is at the end of the article in pdf format.
The surge of COVID-19 infections has been fueled by new SARS-CoV-2 variants, namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and so forth. The molecular mechanism underlying such surge is elusive due to the existence of 28 554 unique mutations, including 4 653 non-degenerate mutations on the spike protein. Understanding the molecular mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and evolution is a prerequisite to foresee the trend of emerging vaccine-breakthrough variants and the design of mutation-proof vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. We integrate the genotyping of 1 489 884 SARS-CoV-2 genomes, a library of 130 human antibodies, tens of thousands of mutational data, topological data analysis, and deep learning to reveal SARS-CoV-2 evolution mechanism and forecast emerging vaccine-breakthrough variants. We show that prevailing variants can be quantitatively explained by infectivity-strengthening and vaccine-escape (co-)mutations on the spike protein RBD due to natural selection and/or vaccination-induced evolutionary pressure. We illustrate that infectivity strengthening mutations were the main mechanism for viral evolution, while vaccine-escape mutations become a dominating viral evolutionary mechanism among highly vaccinated populations. We demonstrate that Lambda is as infectious as Delta but is more vaccine-resistant. We analyze emerging vaccine-breakthrough comutations in highly vaccinated countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, and so forth. Finally, we identify sets of comutations that have a high likelihood of massive growth: [A411S, L452R, T478K], [L452R, T478K, N501Y], [V401L, L452R, T478K], [K417N, L452R, T478K], [L452R, T478K, E484K, N501Y], and [P384L, K417N, E484K, N501Y]. We predict they can escape existing vaccines. We foresee an urgent need to develop new virus combating strategies.
It appears that the virus mutates faster than new vaccines can be developed. Preventing viral respiratory infections with vaccines has never been a particularly effective strategy as the annual flu outbreaks testify. The reason for the ineffectiveness of the annual vaccinations against the flu are likely the same as that which applies to COVID. The virus mutates too rapidly for a vaccine to be timely.
The CDC is recommending vaccination against COVID for those over 18 years of age every two months. Such an immunological dose given six times a year is unprecedented in medical history. The cumulative effect of such a regimen is unknown, but a phenomenon known as immune exhaustion is a distinct possibility. Add this possibility to all the other side effects of the vaccine already described when deciding to receive or administer the vaccine.
The term “immune exhaustion” is defined by loss of effector functions and proliferative capacity in memory T cells. During an adaptive immune response, human naïve T cells are activated by antigen-presenting cells, such as dendritic cells, through MHC-peptide and costimulatory molecules. Whether this effect can be induced by repeated exposure to antigens in the form a vaccine is not known; but it is a possibility. Caution in administering frequently repeated doses of COVID vaccine is warranted, especially as the utility of the vaccine seems less than robust.