NEW DELHI: Stressing that the only way to decrease variants of COVID-19 is by increasing vaccination, prominent clinical scientist Gagandeep Kang said massive inoculation being a mistake is a topic brought up with "pseudo-scientific messy incorrect immunology".
She was reacting to French virologist and Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier's comments on mass vaccination.
Kang said that apparently he did not say all vaccinated people will die in two years, as claimed by some, but he did say that new variants are created through selection imposed by antibodies made through vaccination.
"And he said there will be much stronger infection by variants in vaccinated individuals due to antibody dependent enhancement, massive vaccination is an enormous error, a medical mistake," Kang tweeted, and termed his claims as "not true".
Kang said, "When we are infected or vaccinated we make antibodies in response to a whole virus or part of a virus. In a viral infection, the body's immune responses, including antibodies, shut down viral replication and we recover from infection".
"Massive vaccination being a mistake is a topic brought up with pseudo-scientific messy incorrect immunology that I have addressed previously," she tweeted.
Calling vaccination an exercise in "preparedness and prevention", the vaccinologist said the immune response that is made has nothing to fight immediately but "we train the immune system to recognise the virus if and when it comes".
"In a small number of individuals, special, because they are immunocompromised (therefore not usually out & about to spread virus) it is possible that virus replication may be prolonged. In such (rare) cases there may be a development of variants that escape the immune response," she said in another tweet.
Kang said variants are many, but variants that escape immunity are few.
"As the virus spreads through populations and multiplies massively, the few variants that are more capable of escaping immunity that is induced by vaccines will make vaccines somewhat less effective," she said.
"While this may be what we are currently seeing with B1.351 and B1.617.2, even there two doses of vaccines protect reasonably (data from Qatar and UK).
"The only way to decrease variants is not to stop vaccination, but to increase it to stop virus circulation and replication!" she said.
She said it is seen from effectiveness and impact studies that vaccination reduces viral replication in individuals and decreases transmission in communities, effectively decreasing the overall viral load in the community and the world.
"Clear and simple- if viruses are not replicating they cannot mutate and become new variants. Vaccinate to decrease viral replication and variants," she said.
She said all vaccines are being evaluated to see that they make high amounts of neutralizing antibodies and they are.
"What about with variants because neutralizing antibodies to an older version of the virus might not be enough? This is analogous to the situation with dengue where it is not old and new versions of the virus but four different serotypes that may infect sequentially," she tweeted.
"With repeat dengue infection, where low levels of antibodies from the first infection with 1 type of virus or vaccination can trigger enhanced/severe disease when a person does get subsequently infected with a type to which there is not good neutralizing antibody," Kang added.
Noting that with SARS-CoV2 vaccines based on older virus/spike the ability to neutralise new variants is lower but not absent, Kang said vaccines seem to be working.
"A booster dose of old or new versions of mRNA vaccines has been shown to broaden the immune response, which is encouraging," she added.
"We need to continue to study long-term protection, and particularly study the immune response in vaccine breakthrough cases to understand what is happening with immunity and safety. But reassuringly, so far there is no signal," she tweeted.