Just as the world was learning what the complexities of COVID-19 might bring, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Facebook CEO, Mark Zucherburg, met for a live conversation on Facebook on March 19, 2020. This week, a video clip from that interview was cut and went viral. In the video, Dr. Fauci can be heard telling Zuckerburg:
“This would not be the first time, if it happened, that a vaccine that looked good in initial safety actually made people worse.”1
Fauci then goes on to explain that this was seen with the RSV vaccine study in the 1960’s where many children who later came in contact with the virus went on to become sicker than unvaccinated children, including two who died. A vaccine developed for HIV had similar results.
What is ADE?
Antibody-dependent Enhancement (ADE) is a paradoxical situation where the antibodies created by the vaccine act more as a Trojan horse ushering the antigen into the cell versus protecting the body from the infection. In the situation of ADE, the vaccine in fact does not produce, or inhibits neutralizing antibodies that would be the body’s defense system against the viral antigens and instead is working on behalf of the viral antigen.
The RSV vaccine for children never made it past the trials after being determined it was not safe and doing more harm than good.
In the late 1960s, children in Washington, DC received an RSV vaccine in which the virus was inactivated with formalin. Eighty percent of the children given the shot were hospitalized with severe respiratory disease, and two died. Many scientists had thought the formalin was responsible for the vaccine’s problems, but the chemical has been used safely in other vaccines.
For eight years, Polack and his team have been investigating why the vaccine caused the illness, known as enhanced respiratory disease, or ERD. They started by examining tissue from the lungs of the two patients who died, and comparing the effects of the vaccine to RSV itself in mice.
The problem, they report this month in the journal Nature Medicine, was that the children’s antibodies were not binding strongly enough to the inactivated virus to produce a protective immune response. Instead, the antibodies were dragging the dead virus with them, triggering a massive attack by other arms of the immune system.2
Safety Studies Not Designed to Detect ADE
In reference to the COVID vaccines, Nature states:
Should it occur, ERD caused by human vaccines will first be observed in larger phase II and/or phase III efficacy trials that have sufficient infection events for statistical comparisons between the immunized and placebo control study arms. Safety profiles of COVID-19 vaccines should be closely monitored in real time during human efficacy trials, especially for vaccine modalities that may have a higher theoretical potential to cause immunopathology.3
The biggest challenge to observing the ERD caused by ADE in the COVID vaccines is that as soon as the vaccines received EUA, the placebo group was unblinded and given the option to take the vaccine. There is no control group to follow and compare to. Monitoring in real time is no longer possible.4
Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC has also issued warning in regard to ADE as far back as August when she stated:
“Additionally, reports from our international colleagues, including Israel, suggest increased risk of severe disease amongst those vaccinated early.”5