Lauren Dempsey, MS in Biomedicine and Law, RN, FISM News
A new report estimates that the majority of Americans could have natural immunity from a COVID-19 infection caused by the Omicron variant. This could be good news as the cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to trend downward and the country enters a more endemic phase.
The recent Omicron wave has helped contribute to herd immunity and provides Americans with protection against future waves and new variants of coronaviruses. It is estimated that about 73% of Americans now have immunity from Omicron, and it is expected that this number could rise to 80% by March.
According to the CDC, 76% of Americans aged 5 and older have been vaccinated, with about 43% of eligible individuals having received booster shots. Omicron is much more contagious and transmissible when compared to other variants; however, overall severity of disease is lower, and infection generally causes symptoms comparable to the common cold.
The CDC and public health experts still recommend vaccination, masking, and social distancing as the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection and subsequent illness. This guidance fails to acknowledge that overall health is not determined by the presence or absence of infection. The last two years’ case numbers, hospitalizations, and death rates were the measuring tools used to enforce draconian mitigation strategies that had very little impact on the pandemic. Younger and healthier individuals are at far less risk for complications related to SARS-CoV-2 infection, but experts have failed to account for or document factors that contribute to severe illness such as age, gender, race, and the presence of comorbidities like heart disease, obesity, or diabetes.
This was confirmed in one study, which indicated that many people hospitalized with a COVID-19 diagnosis were admitted for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, such as surgery or an injury. Data from the study indicated that about 40 to 45% of hospitalized patients had an incidental COVID-19 infection. The study also measured the level of severity the disease caused. Neither of these are recorded or differentiated by the CDC, even though the federal government requires hospitals to report all positive COVID-19 test results. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, told CNBC that the agency will continue to use hospitalization rates as an “important barometer” in moving forward.
Millions of Americans have been infected and have natural immunity, but the Biden administration and government scientists like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Walensky have downplayed natural immunity in favor of mass vaccination campaigns, even when it did not align with the most recent scientific evidence. Several studies have shown the effectiveness of natural immunity when compared to vaccine-induced immunity and many experts believe that the Omicron variant has the potential to act as “nature’s vaccine,” providing protection against reinfection.
Some research suggests that is because Omicron is more infectious but causes less severe symptoms. The virus mimics live attenuated vaccines, causing the immune system to react to infection, which then causes an immune response against the virus. It is unlikely that COVID-19 will be eradicated, but natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity bring the country closer to normalcy.