Thinking Citizen Blog — “The High Cost of Disparaging Natural Immunity”
Thinking Citizen Blog — Thursday is Health, Health Care, and Global Health Policy Day
Today’s Topic: “The High Cost of Disparaging Natural Immunity” (Marty Makary, Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine)
I wish I understood this whole thing about “natural immunity” versus “vaccine-based” immunity better. Are you confident that you understand it? Is it true that “public-health officials ruined many lives by insisting that workers with natural immunity to Covid-19 be fired if they weren’t fully vaccinated”? Is is true that “after two years of accruing data, the superiority of natural immunity over vaccinated immunity is clear?” Is it true that “by firing staff with natural immunity, employers got rid of those least likely to infect others” Is it “time to reinstate those employees with an apology”? These claims are not being made by some wacko but by a professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Today, a few more of the salient points by Professor Makary in a recent article. I can’t refute them. Can you? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
CDC DATA: Natural Immunity 2.8X as effective at preventing hospitalization compared to vaccination
1. “For most of last year, many of us called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to release its data on reinfection rates, but the agency refused.”
2. Finally last week, the CDC released data from New York and California, which demonstrated natural immunity was 2.8 times as effective in preventing hospitalization and 3.3 to 4.7 times as effective in preventing Covid infection compared with vaccination.”
3. “Yet the CDC spun the report to fit its narrative, bannering the conclusion “vaccination remains the safest strategy.” It based this conclusion on the finding that hybrid immunity — the combination of prior infection and vaccination — was associated with a slightly lower risk of testing positive for Covid. But those with hybrid immunity had a similar low rate of hospitalization (3 per 10,000) to those with natural immunity alone. In other words, vaccinating people who had already had Covid didn’t significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization.”
HOW LONG DO NATURAL ANTIBODIES FROM NATURAL IMMUNITY LAST?
1.“Similarly, the National Institutes of Health repeatedly has dismissed natural immunity by arguing that its duration is unknown — then failing to conduct studies to answer the question.”
2. “Because of the NIH’s inaction, my Johns Hopkins colleagues and I conducted the study. We found that among 295 unvaccinated people who previously had Covid, antibodies were present in 99% of them up to nearly two years after infection.”
3. “We also found that natural immunity developed from prior variants reduced the risk of infection with the Omicron variant. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of the two-dose Moderna vaccine against infection (not severe disease) declines to 61% against Delta and 16% against Omicron at six months, according to a recent Kaiser Southern California study.”
IS THE DATA OVERWHELMING ON THE POWER OF NATURAL IMMUNITY?
1. “The CDC study and ours confirm what more than 100 other studies on natural immunity have found: The immune system works. The largest of these studies from Israel, found that natural immunity was 27 times as effective as vaccinated immunity in preventing symptomatic illness.”
2. “None of this should surprise us. For years, studies have shown that infection with the other coronaviruses that cause severe illness, SARS and MERS, confers lasting immunity.”
3. “In a studey published in May 2020, Covid-recovered monkeys that were rechallenged with the virus didn’t get sick.”
NB: “Public-health officials have a lot of explaining to do. They used the wrong starting hypothesis, ignored contrary preliminary data, and dug in as more evidence emerged that called their position into question.” Is this true? Is it fair? I can’t refute it. Can you?
For the last four years of posts organized by theme:
Please share the most interesting thing you learned in the last week related to health, health care or health care policy — the ethics, economics, politics, history…. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to health are or health care policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random health-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something really important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that matters.