Geert Vanden Bossche, who has recently gained some fame for dissing all current Covid-19 vaccines (and who is also asking the WHO to meet him so they can be infused with his wisdom), has had the same poster at a couple of conferences/expos in 2015-2017. Quoting one of these (only the title seems to differ):

Universally protective vaccines: A revolution in modern vaccinology

Geert Vanden Bossche (University Leuven, Belgium; Univac NV, Belgium)

To eliminate safety risks related to infectivity, inactivated pathogens and more suitably, well-characterized pathogen-derived antigens (Ags) have increasingly been used as immunogens in modern vaccines. The selection of these Ags is usually based on their capacity to induce immune responses that correlate with natural protection. These Ags, however, are known to be antigenically variable or conformation-dependent (e.g., B cell epitopes) and/or subject to immunogenetic restriction (e.g., linear, T-cell epitopes). In addition, the immunogenicity of good vaccinal Ags is largely dependent on memory CD4+ T helper cells. However, activation of the latter upon natural infection or foreign Ag exposure of genetically predisposed subjects can occasionally lead to immune pathology. Priming of CD4+ T helper cells by adjuvanted vaccines is, therefore, increasingly raising safety concerns. On the other hand, Ags that are highly conserved and vulnerable because of their exposure on the surface of infected or pathologically altered host cells are either not immunogenic or subvert the host immune system. Hence, they are not used as vaccinal Ags in contemporary vaccines. We consider that new technologies enabling immune targeting of these Ags by natural, MHC allotype-independent immune effector memory cells is the new Holy Grail in modern vaccinology.

Basically, is this complete nonsense or is there any plausible biological basis for "universally protective vaccines"?

In his Covid-19 talk, he basically says that natural IgM is better than anything else, which actually seems dangerous crackpottery in the context of Covid-19 because patients with numerous but low potency antibodies are often among the dead.

But in his Covid talk he never mentions "MHC allotype-independent immune effector memory cells" which showed up as his punch line in these older posters that I'm asking about. So is this (older) concept (of his) phantasmagoric, or does it have any biological corresponded? I've looked through a review on memory T cells, which describes the effector memory as a rather problematic subset because it's apparently made of only seemingly connected further sub-types, but I can't tell if any of these could possibly have anything to do with what Bossche is saying. In particular, how would any effector memory cells be the basis for a universal vaccine?

  • $\begingroup$ I'd appreciate some comment(s) as to what is wrong with this q, to go along with the DVs. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 3:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Universally protective" is the epitome of hokum; why spend energy reading any further? $\endgroup$
    – mgkrebbs
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 22:04


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