Our country’s response to the covid epidemic has been an unscientific embarrassment. It is not too harsh to say that our policy has consisted of harassing the general public while exposing the vulnerable. In the parade of irrationality, the Centers for Disease Control has been the leader.
One way in which the CDC’s unscientific approach is currently on display is its refusal to acknowledge that catching covid confers immunity to the disease, to the same extent, and probably more, than being vaccinated. This stands to reason, since the whole point of vaccination is to mimic the effect–production of antibodies–of having a disease.
In the Wall Street Journal, law professor Todd Zywicki describes his own experience of having his employer refuse to acknowledge his recovery from covid as equivalent to vaccination. See original for links:
Clinical studies from Israel, the Cleveland Clinic, England and elsewhere have demonstrated beyond a doubt that natural immunity to SARS-CoV-2 provides robust and durable protection against reinfection comparable to or better than that provided by the most effective vaccines. Examining the evidence this May, the World Health Organization concluded: “Current evidence points to most individuals developing strong protective immune responses following natural infection with SARS-CoV-2.”
Protection from natural immunity may even exceed that of the less effective Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which according to the CDC demonstrated only 66.3% effectiveness at preventing infection in clinical trials.
The onslaught of the Delta variant in recent weeks has reinforced the lessons about the robust protection afforded by natural immunity. Unlike the current vaccines, which are designed to target the spike protein of the virus, natural immunity recognizes the entire complement of SARS-CoV-2 proteins and thus protects against a greater array of variants.
Thus even as vaccine breakthrough infections multiply around the world, natural immunity is robust to the Delta and other variants. With respect to the Gamma variant, a recent analysis of an outbreak among a small group of mine workers in French Guiana found that 60% of fully vaccinated miners suffered breakthrough infections compared with zero among those with natural immunity.
And whereas the vaccine’s protection may wane faster than expected, the latest estimates on the durability of natural immunity stretch to at least 11 months, the duration of most follow-up studies. Some 16 months after contracting Covid I am still testing positive for antibodies. In fact, researchers have discovered that the antibodies produced by natural infection continue to evolve to generate “increasingly broad and potent antibodies that are resistant to mutations” compared with the more static “antibodies elicited by vaccination.”
I don’t know why the CDC resolutely refuses to acknowledge either the basic scientific principles surrounding vaccines and the production of antibodies or clinical data confirming that contracting covid confers immunity, but I am pretty sure the reasons have to do with politics, not science.
Meanwhile, our occasional correspondent who is a neurosurgeon in Washington writes:
There are a fair amount of good clinical studies now published that support the idea that natural immunity is at least equivalent (and better in some instances) than vaccinated immunity. Nonetheless, private and public enterprises are enforcing the mandate without regard to immune status. At least one very good study performed in the UK (www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34216472/), and specific to the Delta variant, found that previously infected health care workers who subsequently got vaccinated, were 3.5x more likely to get a symptomatic breakthrough infection with Delta, than if they were not vaccinated at all. This highlights a possible harm to individuals who were previously infected, who are coerced into receiving the vaccine.
A separate, very large study at the Cleveland Clinic of over 50,000 individuals found that no (0%) of individuals previously infected with COVID, were re-infected regardless of vaccination. (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.06.01.21258176v2) However, the CDC guidelines do not address these studies — and rely on the intuition that the benefit of vaccines outweigh the risks, even in previously infected individuals.
… The slippery slope resulting from these vaccine mandates needs to be resisted as much as possible, and we need to inject scientific equipoise back into the discussion.
Our covid response has been dictated by politicians and bureaucrats, while the voices of actual physicians with expertise in the relevant fields and with clinical experience treating covid patients have been suppressed by the press and by social media giants. The result has been a fiasco.