How Vaccines Train the Immune
System in Ways No One Expected
TED Talk by Dr Christine Stabell Benn
This is a more differentiated perspective on vaccines than we usually hear - one that may offer a new, possibly better direction to our search for a COVID-19 vaccine
Here's a brief overview of this talk - and some thoughts and questions it's triggered
in me :
Third world countries like Guinea-Bissau, where Dr Christine Benn works, often lack dependable basic resources, such as public sanitation, clean water and adequate nutrition. For this reason, children in these areas are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases ; and if infected, outcomes are often far more serious than for children with the same illnesses in developed countries. Vaccines, for these children, may be the difference between life and death.
Dr Benn's team has conducted research that shows oral vaccines with attenuated (weakened) live disease organisms have surprising additional benefits for children's immune systems, making them resistant to other diseases, beyond the targeted ones, and significantly increasing survival rates. They've found these kinds of vaccines have important generalized benefits to health. These findings are very significant, Dr Benn emphasizes, and should be explored further.
The team's research has also shown that conventional injected vaccines containing dead (killed) organisms or their proteins, have high effectiveness against the targeted disease - but surprisingly, children who receive them are more susceptible to other diseases, and have significantly higher overall mortality than those who receive attenuated live vaccines.
Dr Benn notes that almost ALL vaccines today are of this second kind - but that it's planned to phase live organism vaccines out altogether in 2022
How to Understand This Research ?
Live, attenuated vaccines provide the same experience to the immune system
as the disease itself, and provoke the same reactions - but the infection is so mild,
it can easily be overcome. At the same time, however, the immune system learns
how to fight off this disease - and somehow, also other diseases - in the future.
It should be noted that there's a large body of literature on later health benefits of having had certain infectious diseases - but this is not well known, and is often dismissed or ridiculed in the charged atmosphere surrounding vaccination today.
This presentation indicates that much the same benefits can be gained - and more safely - through using attenuated live oral vaccines.
A question not asked in the talk, that I think could and should be, is : what explains the surprisingly worse outcomes in children given the other vaccines - those with killed organisms ?
It's known that these vaccines do not stimulate the entire immune system - only the part that creates antibodies. Could it be that in not activating the whole immune system, they don't stimulate it enough ?
A second question not addressed in the video, but that can also fairly be asked, is whether negative effects of the conventional vaccines lie not just in the antigen - the killed organism - but in other substances in them.
Some scientists and healthcare providers express concerns about vaccine excipient substances - other ingredients, besides their antigen components - and in particular, vaccine adjuvant substances. These ingredients, many well known toxic substances, are included in vaccines to cause strong, long lasting immune reactions to killed organism antigens, and trigger antibody production against them.
The concerns raised are that extensive, repeated exposures to vaccine adjuvants cause the many, and in some cases very serious adverse effects listed on vaccine package inserts ; and that vaccine safety advocates see played out in their own or their children's bodies.
The concern is also that for each dramatic acute effect, there may be less obvious, more slowly developing, yet equally serious effects, that emerge only over time. Safety advocates fear that immediate adverse events are not just the tip of the iceberg ; but that we trade generally mild and temporary infections like chicken pox, measles etc now, for much more chronic problems later.
This talks by Christine Stabell Benn points out a possible middle way between rigidly "pro-vaxx" and adamantly "anti-vaxx" thinking and policies : the promise of attenuated live organism vaccines. But as she notes, these vaccines are endangered, scheduled for discontinuation in the very near future.
Attenuated live oral vaccines may also present us a path forward in this moment of COVID-19 pandemic. A first step any of us can take is to learn more about this work - and to make it more visible. But this path is also about to close for us - so any insight we gain here needs urgently to be followed by action !
Here are some important further resources :
Bandim Health Project See especially : their "About BHP" and "Research" tabs.
Vaccines Reimagined To enlarge text size : Click "Ctrl" together with "+" as many times as needed.
Support Bandim Health Project Lastly, please note that BHP has no core funding or donations - and that individual donations are highly needed !
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Jeff Smith RN, born 1950. A registered nurse since 1984 - but holistic in my outlook to health since probably around 1968. Living Waters Wellness considers not just the health of the physical body, but our soul and spirit, our social forms, our environment - and as a matter of fact, our whole earth. It's a new website, and a work in progress - but by all means, have a look around !