Alexey Vodovozov: ‘Coronavirus is a light version of an infection apocalypse’

Three reasons to receive a coronavirus vaccine and a story about vaccines

Alexey Vodovozov: ‘Coronavirus is a light version of an infection apocalypse’
Photo: 22century.ru

“To exchange coronavirus for rhinovirus is also quite good. Another case is that such thing as medical ethics interferes. I really doubt that some ethics committee will permit infecting people, for instance, who have coronavirus with another viral infection,” says scientific journalist, therapist Alexey Vodovozov. He recently visited Kazan — the doctor was invited to talk with Tatarstan residents about Myths, Fallacies and Mistakes in Medicine in the Tatarstan National Library within Milmax Science scientific lecture. The famous scientific exponent talked about the mutations of coronavirus and three reasons to receive a vaccine against COVID-19, terrors of popular medicine, bloodletting, standing on a bed of nails, search for your doctor, the placebo effect, homoeopathy, supplements, physiotherapy and much more. Realnoe Vremya is publishing the first part of the lecture on coronavirus.

“We did a good vaccine but didn’t manage to present it properly

Let’s start to debunk myths. Many are wrong to think that a vaccine against coronavirus changes the genome, some time later a vaccinated person develops a tail, and various mutations happen in the person...

A huge number of people are surprised at how quickly the vaccine was created. It had been forecasted earlier, that it would take 5-10 years. It is necessary to understand that, for instance, vector-based vaccines have been developed since the early 80s, mRNA vaccines have been since the late 80s. In other words, there is a huge period of research. By the way, a vector vaccine was already registered in 2019, but this isn’t paid great attention now. It was a vaccine against Ebola fever.

We had live vaccines first. Inactivated vaccines such as CoviVac became the next significant step. And split, fermented vaccines became the next stage. And today vector-based vaccines are an absolutely new approach, a new era in vaccination and medicine in general. The use of systems of delivery of something inside our cells is medicine of the future, fight against different tumours, other diseases, including genetic ones. It is a very good prospect. And it is interesting enough as a vaccine technology because in fact, we get a carrier where we can change cassettes. And we can deliver not one cassette but 5-10 cassettes. As a result, we will get a universal vaccine against all existing infectious diseases. One injection will be enough. Clearly, revaccination will be required. But this will already become another approach.

James Gillray. The Cow-Pock—or—the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation! (1802) Photo: wikipedia.org
If we have a look at caricatures, they also picture people with a head growing from their shoulder or a tail or they walk on their all fours and moo after vaccination like now

The stories about this stuff built in the genome are the next twist of the spiral. Almost the same was said about Jenner’s vaccine against smallpox that started to spread in Europe in the 19th century. If we have a look at caricatures, they also picture people with a head growing from their shoulder or a tail or they walk on their all fours and moo after vaccination like now. Today the same is being told, almost literally the same. But if we have a look at the nature of adenovirus the Sputnik V vaccine is based on, we will see that it has a non-integrated genome. In other words, it in general doesn’t know how to build in something. Unlike those viruses that can do this (for example, HIV).

Most interestingly, vaccines train cell immunity too. It turns out that a cell temporarily producing coronavirus S protein dies, our T cell immunity learns to recognise it and then kills such cells.

Another important thing is that immunity training happens at the injection site: for instance, in my arm. There are plenty of immune cells there, and the “training material” doesn’t go beyond this place. But immune memory cells are generated there — as usual when immunity comes across a pathogen. These cells will travel along the lymph to the closest lymph node, proliferate en masse and spread to other lymph nodes. This is why it takes some time to develop immunity. During the next meeting with the virus, memory cells will quickly respond. Yes, perhaps they won’t prevent infection and disease — in some cases, we can catch the virus after the vaccine. It can even reproduce inside us for some time, but the “trained” immunity will anyway destroy it. So yes, some can fall ill after vaccination. But we should understand that a vaccine lowers the risks of severe outcomes and deaths!

Some countries have massively been vaccinated. It is Israel and San Marino. In the latter, all the population has been inoculated with the Sputnik. They almost don’t have infections, the epidemic has suddenly gone down.

Photo: Maxim Platonov
We did a good vaccine but didn’t manage to present it properly. We should still learn to do it

As strange as it might sound, we receive all the best information about how the Sputnik is working from Argentina. Our Ministry of Health should follow the example of Argentinean colleagues who are regularly publishing reports on the number of side effects, what side effects they have had, the efficiency. At the same time, they have tested the Sputnik Light too. Today we know that the numbers voiced by the Russian Direct Investment Fund about the Sputnik Light almost correspond to the number of clinical trials. Argentina did this and saw that year, in this sense everything is really fine.

I mean we did a good vaccine but didn’t manage to present it properly. We should still learn to do it. I am urging PR specialists to join this campaign fully because we really need you now, explanations will also be needed.

“We are receiving the vaccine to stop the evolution of the virus”

Should those who have already had coronavirus receive a vaccine? Coronavirus is mutating, will the vaccine work for new variants?

When we are vaccinated, we have three reasons for this. And only one is personal. We protect ourselves as much as we can, we reduce the risks of a severe case, a death. The other two reasons are the duty to society, it is not trendy to talk about this today at all. We live in a society, respect road rules, respect the Criminal Code. We have some restrictions, fire safety rules and so on. And there are anti-epidemic measures, which were also written with blood. And they really need to be respected. At this moment we don’t have herd immunity. We must be protected completely. Therefore we need to develop this herd immunity, first in Kazan, then in Russia, Eurasia and across the globe. We are vaccinated to stop the evolution of the virus!

Coronavirus is developing, passing through millions of people repeatedly. Yes, mutations are identical. But if they start to help coronavirus to escape from our antibodies or spread better, this will stay. Others will die, but precisely these lines of coronavirus will survive and seize the world. It also has an intraspecific competition, and we really wonder who will win it because if something wild and contagious wins, this won’t suit us. It would be better if it was weakling, gaunt to go away from us. Unfortunately, this doesn’t look like it to be so yet.

Photo: Maxim Platonov
Coronavirus is a light version of an infection apocalypse because it is not such a deadly infection as smallpox and, for instance, isn’t as contagious as measles. And it mutates much slower than the flu virus. But it shouldn’t be given such opportunities

Now the Indian variant is massively developing. If it gets to our small population while we have herd immunity, it will come across a person who has immunity. It will come across another person who also has immunity. It finally penetrated in the third person but this person has antibodies, and it didn’t manage to proliferate, its cycle is interrupted, and it died. In other words, all the branches that arrived here stopped, it doesn’t develop anymore. It turns out that we stop its development and lower the probability of having something new many times.

By the way, it isn’t ruled out that it will appear. Yes, we are very lucky, no matter how strange it sounds. Coronavirus is a light version of an infection apocalypse because it is not such a deadly infection as smallpox and, for instance, isn’t as contagious as measles. And it mutates much slower than the flu virus. But it shouldn’t be given such opportunities because if it suddenly learns how to enter the cell through some other receptors, then we all will start to have problems.

There is a third reason why we are vaccinated. Some people have contraindications to any vaccines. It is usually severe patients, with inherent or acquired immunodeficiency with terminal cancer. And we, people who have been vaccinated, stand as a shield, while they hide behind us and we hide them from the infection. And the infection will be deadly for them, and such manipulations in immunity as vaccination are also fatal. So we protect some people but we live in society because people usually do this way.

Photo: Maxim Platonov
Ours is a bit different, theirs is different in itself. It depends on developers what exactly will be inside the vector. And the world’s vaccines are all different

“I have thirty different vaccines inside me

Some coronavirus vaccines are authorised abroad. What is the Sputnik similar with and which vaccine would you receive if you had choice among all the vaccines existing around the world?

The Sputnik is mostly similar to two foreign vaccines. As we know, it consists of two adenoviruses. The first is Ad26, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is made of it. The second part is Ad5 like one of the Chinese vaccines. So there is no complete analogue of the Sputnik. But the Sputnik Light is like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. On the other hand, they all were made differently. Even Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is different due to the number of genetic material that’s inside. Ours is a bit different, theirs is different in itself. It depends on developers what exactly will be inside the vector. And the world’s vaccines are all different.

What would I prefer? Perhaps some mRNA vaccine because it is simply interesting. Also, I would receive a vector vaccine, this is also interesting because it is an absolutely new thing. I have thirty different vaccines inside me. As far as I am concerned, an mRNA vaccine is going to be developed because it is a promising technology. If it is made one day, I would receive it just out of curiosity.

“Seemingly rhinovirus defeats coronavirus”

Rumour had it that rhinovirus in humans can fight coronavirus. Has research on treatment for COVID-19 with rhinovirus begun?

There are only observations so far, research has not begun. I think it is an interesting approach from the perspective of “Why not try?”. Because to exchange coronavirus for rhinovirus is also quite good. Another case is that such thing as medical ethics interferes. I really doubt that some ethics committee will permit infecting people, for instance, who have coronavirus with another viral infection. This issue will likely be scrapped by the ethics committee, it won’t be allowed, permitted. But the observations are interesting. Perhaps some folk rhinovirus parties will kick off. There are chickenpox parties, why not hold rhinovirus gatherings? Judging by the first results, indeed, seemingly rhinovirus defeats coronavirus.

Kristina Ivanova
SocietyInfrastructure Tatarstan