The pandemic has been a reason for concern for almost two full years and it sounds like it’s here to stay.
In the U.S., 46 million cases of COVID-19 infection have been confirmed which means that the rate of natural immunity is quite significant. However, as it turns out, it might not be enough to prevent re-infection or even hospitalization and death.
Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia, Dr. Taison Bell stated via a live video for Yahoo Finance that “The problem with natural immunity is that A) it is not as good as vaccination and B) it wanes over time and people get reinfected if they do not follow that up with a vaccination.”
Sure enough, other experts in the field have also stated very similar things.
For instance, associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Keri Althoff, shared that “This idea of building our immunological protection at the population level based on just natural infection, first of all, is very dangerous. It is very hard. We have risk factors for those who are at higher risk for severe illness and for death with this, but we have also had young, healthy people die of COVID. We do not want this virus to just go wild and for people to lose their lives.”
At this point, it is estimated that no less than 757,000 American citizens have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
There are many other Americans who refuse to get vaccinated, arguing that their natural immunity should be strong enough to protect them as well as those around them from transmission, even more so than the jab!
But is that really the case? Well, yes and no!
It is known that society should reach a point of herd immunity through a combination of natural immunity and vaccination.
This concept is known as endemicity and it means that vaccines and natural immunity both play an important role in slowing down the pandemic.
Preventive Medicine Specialist Dr. David Katz explained via Yahoo Finance Live that natural immunity “ought to count as well. Those vaccinations should be freed up for other people who need them more, whether it is boosters or distributions around the world.”
It does seem like catching the virus and healing from it offers very strong immunity, especially against the delta variant which the vaccine is not as great against due to the fact that it emerged after its creation.
However, Dr. Bell explains that “the nature of this virus is to come in cycles and waves. And over time when yet another wave comes, when that natural immunity has also gone down, you have a population that is still not protected once again. So I fear that is what we are going to see.”
Professor of radiology and of public health at Yale, Dr. Howie Forman also told Yahoo Finance that “Logistically, allowing individuals to substitute prior infection for vaccination requires documentation of prior infection and (less certainly) current antibody status. And then making a decision about durability — i.e. how long can someone be considered to still have immunity.”
A study by the CDC has discovered that developing COVID immunity after a previous infection is not a guarantee!
Forman mentioned this as well, saying that “It’s one more study that says that a certain percent of the population does not develop antibodies, at least measurable antibodies after infection. It starts to help us understand which groups are less likely to develop antibodies.”
The study says that “not all persons recovering from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection develop SARS-CoV-2–specific antibodies. We show that non-seroconversion is associated with younger age and higher reverse transcription PCR cycle threshold values and identify SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in the nasopharynx as a major correlate of the systemic antibody response.”
What this means is that younger people are not as likely to develop antibodies after an infection and that the production of antibodies also depends a lot on the severity of their case.
The more severe the infection, the more likely it is that someone develops antibodies.
This is the reason why the CDC warns people not to rely on natural immunity when it’s likely that it’s not even there to begin with, leaving them and others around them very vulnerable.
“RT-PCR positive persons who experienced COVID-19 symptoms might be less inclined to seek vaccination, believing they are protected, but our results caution against this assumption,” the health agency reports.
No matter these variables, there are still people who want to get infected in order to develop immunity, even going as far as to host so-called COVID parties in an effort to ensure their infection.
Such a case happened in Canada not too long ago and a number of those involved ended up in the hospital.
About this, Forman stated that “There is no good logic that says you should get infected instead of vaccinated. At least down to the age of 12, the evidence is compelling that vaccination is safer than infection, so nobody should want to get infected instead of getting vaccinated. That’s just a foolish thing to do. It’d be sort of like if you could imagine that a healed bone after a fracture turned out to be as sturdy as a bone that hadn’t been fractured or anything akin to saying that if I break my bone, I’ll have strong bones again. There’s no logic to avoiding it. All it’s doing is introducing higher risks to you.”
Basically, it seems like the vaccine is still the way to go about it no matter how strong natural immunity can be.
Besides, getting infected with COVID-19 in the first place is just too much of a risk that no one should take, no matter their age or health.
Furthermore, research seems to suggest that “hybrid immunity,” which refers to the combination of natural immunity and the one from the vaccine, is the strongest protection against the virus.
This means that people who had the virus and are not vaccinated would have a lot to gain from receiving the jab as well.
Althoff stresses that vaccinations are “the way to go.”
“We have good data to show people are responding and responding well, and that antibody response hangs in there for quite a few months. The whole discussion about boosters right now is coming into play because that antibody response is starting to wane in some — and that is especially risky if we see strong evidence that it’s waning… [in] older folks or those types of higher-risk individuals,” he goes on to elaborate.