New research shows natural immunity more effective than COVID vaccination

by Jacob Fuller

Lauren Dempsey, MS in Biomedicine and Law, RN, FISM News 

A new report published last week confirmed a narrative that many conservatives had advocated for throughout the pandemic, that natural immunity provided greater protection than vaccination from the COVID-19 virus.

The Lancet conducted a study showing that previous COVID-19 infection and subsequent immunity provide protection from reinfection, severe disease, and symptomatic infection for up to 10 months. In comparison, vaccine-acquired immunity wanes after about 4 months.

Using data from 65 studies from 19 different countries, researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation COVID-19 Forecasting Team meta-analyzed the effectiveness of past infection by outcomes, variant, and time since infection, finding that past infection provided protection against all variants, although protection was lower for the Omicron BA.1 variant.

The team estimated the reduction in risk of COVID-19 among individuals with a past SARS-CoV-2 infection and compared it to individuals without a previous infection. The results showed that high levels of protection are present for ancestral, alpha, delta, and beta variants when analyzing infection, any symptomatic disease, and severe disease. On average, natural immunity is more than 85% effective up to at least 10 months post-infection.

The protection from reinfection against symptomatic disease was 82% or greater for ancestral, alpha, beta, and delta variants, but was less for the omicron BA.1 variant with a pooled estimate of 45%. Protection against severe disease, hospitalization, or death was high with an average level of protection of 79% or greater for ancestral, alpha, beta, delta, and omicron BA.1.

According to the study, natural immunity is just as protective as two doses of an mRNA vaccine and provides strong protection against severe outcomes from COVID-19 as well as provides protection for more than twice as long as vaccination.

“This is really good news, in the sense that protection against severe disease and death after infection is really quite sustained at 10 months,” Dr. Christopher Murray, senior study author and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said.

However, researchers stated that vaccination is the safest way to get immunity. Lead study author Dr. Stephen Lim, who is also a professor at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine said, “Vaccination is the safest way to acquire immunity, whereas acquiring natural immunity must be weighed against the risks of severe illness and death associated with the initial infection.”

Lim did not mention that vaccination itself can come with significant side effects.


It is estimated that more than 91 million Americans have had a COVID-19 infection and, therefore, have some level of protection from the virus. However, U.S. health agencies have worked hard over the past two years to discredit natural immunity in an effort to promote vaccination.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to recommend vaccination for those that have natural immunity. Dr. Peter Marks, the director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said “if you’ve been vaccinated and have also had COVID-19, it’s probably also a good idea to get a booster” and that getting vaccinated is important to “help prevent you from getting into further trouble with a new variant down the line.”

Marks’s statement doesn’t fit with current research or the scientific consensus of many experts. An observational study published in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed information from the Israeli Ministry of Health database from August and September of 2021 and found that individuals that were previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 had adequate, if not superior protection against reinfection, severe illness, and hospitalization.

However, many are hopeful that this study and others like it will help health officials to make policy changes on vaccine mandates. Many Americans lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates and compulsory vaccination, and many organizations continue to require vaccination as a requirement for work.