Natural Immunity is the immunity we develop as a result of previous infection. We get exposed to a bug, develop antibodies and cells (B and T cells) to recognize it, and then the next time we are exposed to the bug, we can recognize it sooner and either neutralize it or at least, combat it right away. Another form of immunity is that which is generated by vaccination. With vaccines, we expose our immune system to parts of a pathogen, also developing antibodies and B and T cells, which can then recognize the actual bug sooner if we become exposed. Both are parts of the Adaptive Immune System, which adapts to pathogens we are exposed to and takes about a week after exposure to become fully functional. See the chart below describing the Adaptive and Innate (background, non specific) Immune systems. Whether from infection or from vaccination, both forms of immunity are important and very valuable since they help us combat infections sooner, essentially immediately rather than 8 days later, however with naturally acquired immunity, there is usually a more robust and varied immune response. The immune system learns to recognize multiple parts of a pathogen whereas with vaccination, you only generate an immune response to the proteins we introduce into the body.
HOWEVER, even if you’ve had the infection, there is no question that you MUST get vaccinated because you do NOT want to get this disease if you can avoid it. Even if you got Covid, getting vaccinated gives you added protection as well as a boost in the immune system, much like the vaccine boosters we are talking about today.
Israel is the most progressive country with respect to vaccination, with 80% of eligible people being fully vaccinated and 25% of the population having already been triple vaccinated. The majority are with the Pfizer vaccine but the second most common is the Moderna vaccine, both mRNA vaccines. Despite those vaccination rates, they are having a terrible Delta variant outbreak. The numbers suggest that those with only 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were only ~60% protected whereas those who got the Moderna vaccine were 74% protected against Delta. A third dose should improve protection but this was not yet studied. Vaccinated people who contracted Delta DID have far fewer deaths and hospitalizations however. So vaccination still helps a lot.
Recent Israeli data also suggests that natural immunity from infection provides better protection than those who never got Covid 19 but were fully (2 doses) vaccinated. Those who were vaccinated but never got sick were 13x more likely to get a breakthrough infection with the Delta variant than those who had an earlier Covid-19 infection but never got vaccinated. Why? Simply put, as mentioned above, with vaccination, you develop antibodies to only the proteins you introduce into the body. In the case of SARS-Cov-2, vaccination only covers the spike protein, the part which binds to the ACE-2 receptor on our cells. Whereas with natural immunity, your body develops antibodies to, not only the spike protein, but also to other surface proteins such as the nuclei-capsid protein. If you are interested, here is a link to a drawing describing what this is. https://viralzone.expasy.org/1516. When you get a blood test looking for infection, it’s the nuclei-capsid antibodies which are measured. This differentiates immunity from infection rather than vaccination.
The most important point of the study to me is that those who had Covid and then got a vaccine dose had the best and longest lasting protection against reinfection, including with the Delta variant.
The same results were found in a Kentucky study. Those who had Covid were the most protected against reinfection. Those who also got a vaccine dose afterwards were even more protected but their study also showed significant protection from vaccination alone.
Not only do vaccines protect against actual infection, but if infected, the degree of disease is substantially better.
Also, in both Israeli and Kentucky studies, in all three categories (Covid, Covid + vaccine or just vaccine) those who got sick, significantly sick or perhaps even died tended to be older, and/or less healthy to begin with.
If you’ve had Covid, it does NOT mean that vaccination increases your risk of getting sick.
It does NOT mean you should not get vaccinated, whether you were infected or not.
It means that there is significant protection from having been infected before. That’s it. Should you still get a vaccine if you actually had Covid? YES. You will develop a more diverse immune response. In addition, it acts as a booster, causing your immune system to build up more cells and “top-off” the antibodies. If it was me, my parents or my kids, I would still recommend getting a follow up vaccine dose.
Also, keep in mind that there are various factors which may dictate how well your immune system has responded to the virus. The more severe the infections the better the subsequent protection. This means that if you had a very mild or asymptomatic case, you may only have very little or perhaps even no lasting protection since your immune system was not all that challenged. Also, if you are taking any medications or have any condition which can affect your immune response (basically, any illness or conditions including being overweight), your response to the virus may be diminished, resulting in poorer protection afterwards. The same can be said for vaccination but the point is that any additional protection is better than none, and there are plenty of bozos walking around doing absolutely nothing to protect themselves or to protect others. Using the seatbelt analogy, a lap belt gives you some protection but a shoulder strap and airbags protect you much more.
As mentioned in a previous post, there are significant concerns amongst the doctors treating long-haulers, now being considered an auto-immune post covid syndrome (more on that in a future post) that those infected with the SARS-Cov-2 virus, even asymptomatic infections, could have far reaching effects even many years down the line. You do not want to risk your child’s mental development. You do not want to risk the possibility of increasing risks of developing dementia. These are only 2 of the theoretical risks of the brain effects of this virus or the autoimmune reaction which can occur. Who would have thought when our parents were having “chicken pox” parties, that we were condemning all those kids to having shingles later in life. Shingles is not just a painful rash. I’ve seen meningitis, facial paralysis, severe dizziness and hearing loss from it, and that is just in the head and neck. People can really get sick and even die from shingles. We just did not know about Shingles back then. But now we do. We do not know what the far distant ramifications could be of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, but you MUST assume they are not good. Some would argue that we do not know the far distant ramifications of vaccination. I agree, however we know today what happens if you get sick. You can get really sick and die. You can make someone else sick and cause their death.
Compared with the number of doses given, virtually NO ONE has gotten really sick or died from the vaccine. More people die from aspirin everyday. More people die from eating an apple every day.
Although vaccination is our best hope of controlling and managing this disease, it’s clearly not bulletproof. The US is in decent shape when it comes to vaccination. Not as good as Israel, but we are getting there slowly. 70% of eligible Americans have gotten at least one dose but barely over 50% have been fully vaccinated. It’s also estimated that many millions have had asymptomatic infections, so they have some protection. It’s not enough. Today, many hospitals are full of Covid patients and they have NO ICU beds. People are being assessed as to their survivability. If you are sick and your chances are not good, you may be told to go home , and essentially die, so that someone with a better chance can get admitted to the hospital. Imagine that. It is real.
Despite all the ELIGIBLE people being vaccinated, we still have all the millions of young people, the most vulnerable, who are not even eligible to get the vaccine.
Today, more kids are hospitalized with Covid-19 than at any stage of the pandemic. 25% of new cases are in kids. In Georgia, it’s 50% of new cases. 20% of all pediatric deaths from the entire Covid-19 pandemic have occurred in only the last 3 weeks alone! That is sad and we should all be concerned. We are not doing enough to protect our own kids. Already, over 1000 schools have closed to in-person learning because of outbreaks and it’s only the second or third week of school. In Miami, 15 school employees including 3 teachers have already died yet their politically motivated governor punishes schools who oppose his mask aversion. We would rather fight rabidly to have the option not to force our kids to “be muzzled” by wearing a mask. Do you force your kids to wear a seat belt? Why? If you don’t want your kid vaccinated or make them wear a mask, why would you care about seatbelts? Or gun safety? Or smoking and vaping? Or running with scissors?
Only 30% of 12-16 year olds are vaccinated at this stage. It’s shameful that, while most of the world is desperate to get any vaccine, we have a choice as to which one to get and we are wasting them.
As responsible adults and parents, how can we allow this to happen? It just doesn’t make sense.
We must do all we can to protect ourselves and in doing so, we’ll protect everyone else.
The disease evolves. Information evolves. Science evolves. Responsible doctors and scientists adjust views based on the most recent available information, however, the science and the balance of information today still supports the basics:
PRACTICE BASIC HYGIENE
Have a great weekend.
Stay safe and be well.