Lauren Dempsey, MS in Biomedicine and Law, RN, FISM News
The CDC recently published a study that claims vaccine-induced immunity for COVID-19 offers greater protection than natural immunity acquired through infection. These claims, however, directly contradict multiple studies, most notably the Israeli and Cleveland clinic studies, that show the significance of natural immunity from COVID-19 leaving many to wonder the reason for the discrepancy on the matter.
The CDC’s study asserts that everyone, including previously infected individuals, should be vaccinated, but many experts have described the study as flawed. The current study by the CDC, in fact, contradicts an earlier study by the organization that indicated there was no significant difference in the overall level of protection provided by “natural immunity” when compared with protection provided by vaccination.
Some prominent concerns being raised by medical experts is that the study did not include individuals that received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and that it also evaluated patients with “COVID-like” symptoms.
Martin Kulldorff, a Harvard Medical School professor, epidemiologist, and biostatistician, argues that the CDC study does not evaluate which type of immunity is superior. Rather, he says it assesses if “vaccination or COVID recovery is more related to COVID hospitalization or if it is more related to other respiratory type hospitalizations.”
Kulldorff also stated, “There is both a relationship between being vaccinated/recovered and COVID hospitalization and a relationship between being vaccinated/recovered and non-COVID hospitalization,” adding, “Rather than evaluate the first one, which is of intense interest for health policy, the CDC study evaluates the contrast between the two, which is not particularly interesting.”
The study appears to be biased toward promoting vaccinations for all, regardless of previous infection, despite the fact that it is well documented that previous infection provides long-lasting and often lifelong immunity.
In addition, the CDC is promoting booster shots for the vaccine as studies have shown that immunity from the shot wanes over time. One such study among Veterans concludes that after just six months the vaccine effectiveness for the Moderna vaccine dropped to 58%, Pfizer dropped to 43.3%, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine dropped to a mere 13.1%.
The discrepancy in opinion on the matter also raises questions about the push for vaccine identification cards or passports and whether individuals with antibodies for COVID-19 should be afforded the same immunity status as vaccinated individuals. Members of Congress have called on CDC director Rochelle Walensky and other government officials “to acknowledge natural immunity and work with other federal agencies to ensure all future guidance, policies, and federally-funded research take this evidence into account and build off it.”
The benefits of natural immunity have largely been ignored throughout the pandemic in an effort to encourage a one-size-fits all vaccination plan to reach herd immunity. However, what public health official and physicians have not considered is that vaccination does not always reflect an individual’s immunity level and that natural immunity that is acquired through previous infection contributes to the overall herd immunity of a population as well.