18 months too late: natural immunity is *almost* as good as vaccination (except when it’s better)

By Jo Nova

In the great Covid backpedalling of 2023, even the Australian ABC has finally admitted that natural immunity from Covid “lasts as long as vaccination” which is still false and misleading (because it lasts longer and is higher) but must have caused angst at the office. They go on to say their holy rosary incantation: “but experts have cautioned that vaccines are still the safer option”. Safer than what, though? The new meta-review in the Lancet  says nothing at all about side effects of  vaccines or variants, but people who-believe-experts and people who think they are “good journalists” need to say their medical Hail-Mary’s, otherwise they have to admit to themselves that they were wrong and sometimes obnoxiously, insufferably so.

The new Lancet metastudy looked at 65 studies from 19 countries.  They found the reinfection rate of people who caught Covid is lower than people who were given Pfizer or Moderna. About a year after catching Covid, people with natural immunity still had about 37% protection against getting Omicron BA.1, about four times higher than people who had two Moderna doses.

For some reason that no one can explain, despite millions of people using Pfizer vaccines, there were apparently no useful studies lasting beyond 30 weeks.

Omicron immunity, Vaccine versus natural infection.

Figure 4 Comparison of protection efficacy from past COVID-19 infection versus protection from vaccination (by vaccine type and dose) against re-infection… for omicron BA.1 variants


Our immune systems can tell the difference between a real infectious threat and a pretend virus

It makes sense that a true infection generates a longer stronger response than a fake one. We evolved from people whose immune systems didn’t waste protein and energy on things that don’t matter. Our personal defense force can’t be bothered staying in DefCon 1 when its only the Avon lady at the door again and not the Vikings. So it’s no surprise that usually the antibody protection varies according to the threat. The older nastier SARS-1 virus killed about 10% of those infected, and T-cell immunity was still there 17 years later.  Its dark cousin MERS killed about 35% and is not as well studied, but antibodies were still present three years  after infection.

On the other hand, protection against the tame common cold sort of coronaviruses is a big “so what” for our immune system. Immunity wears off in months which means we can catch the exact same dang virus the next year. Since vaccines are (supposedly) safe, the hard part in vaccine design is to trick our immune system into caring at all about something that isn’t very scary.

In this graph below we see the waning of protection against not just reinfection but “getting sick” or being symptomatic. The result is much like the graph above, with a few more variants of vaccines. I added the labels on the lines in these graphs to hone the point that the top line in every graph was natural immunity. (It wasn’t always obvious which lines were which, especially for anyone who was colorblind).

Omicron immunity, Vaccine versus natural infection.

Figure 4 (D) Comparison between waning of immunity with time of the protection conferred by SARS-CoV-2 infection against symptomatic disease with omicron variant versus vaccine protection against primary infection with omicron by type of vaccine and dose.

“Risk of COVID death or hospitalisation 88 per cent lower for those previously infected…”

The headline conclusion of the ABC story is shown in the graph below. Most people who caught Covid have good protection against getting a severe case of Covid on the second round. But try looking at this graph and reading the ABC description with a straight face: “…natural immunity [is] “at least as durable, if not more so” than two doses of Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines… “

At least indeed… natural infection had higher efficacy than all the vaccines for 50 out of the last 60 weeks.

Omicron immunity, Vaccine versus natural infection.

Figure 4 Comparison of protection efficacy from past COVID-19 infection versus protection from vaccination (by vaccine type and dose) against re-infection… for omicron BA.1 variants

Hallelujah. 18 months too late we get the big admission — those who had natural immunity should be treated as equivalent to being “vaccinated”

One day we might even hear that the unvaccinated should be treated as equivalent to being human.

For the moment at least researchers are saying what we’ve known for a hundred years: We should take natural immunity into account when making policies.

Our findings have several important policy implications. … restrictions of movement and access to venues based on immune status and vaccine mandates for workers should take into account immunity conferred by vaccination and that provided by natural infection. Countries have taken different approaches to this; for example, immunity from past infection was considered as part of eligibility for the EU COVID certificate but not in countries such as the USA or Australia.

People with natural immunity are still barred from entering the USA unless they get a vaccine. I’ve turned down an expenses paid trip to Florida this very week. Hawaii too! — (Thanks Craig and thanks Stephen.)

The bottom line is that far from sacking people who had already had covid, employers should have been fighting over them —  they would have made ideal employees. We could have tested for prior infection before vaccinating people as well. The San Diego Blood Bank was already testing donations for antibodies by the end of May 2020. The FDA approved the first blood test for antibodies as early as April 3, 2020. And before vaccinations were even being conducted we had tests that could tell whether someone was vaccinated or naturally immune by looking for antibodies to the parts of the virus that were not in the vaccine (like the N or nucleocapsid antibodies as opposed to the S or Spike antibodies that form in both natural infection and through vaccination). Yet those tests were largely banned, as were the safe, cheap antivirals like ivermectin and HCQ.

If the entire medical system were a mafia cabal designed to create Pfizer profits by banning cheap drugs and useful tests, while guaranteeing indemnity in secret contracts and forcing drugs on people who didn’t want them, what exactly would our Minister of Health have done differently?

And ignorance is no excuse. When there was only a few months of data on the efficacy of vaccines, there was already a whole year of data with natural immunity. In fact, doctors were saying natural immunity worked in the BMJ as early as September 2021:

Infection generates immunity. The “SIREN” study in the Lancet addressed the relationships between seropositivity in people with previous COVID-19 infection and subsequent risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome due to SARS-CoV-2 infection over the subsequent 7-12 months (2). Prior infection decreased risk of symptomatic re-infection by 93%. A large cohort study published in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at 3.2 million US patients and showed that the risk of infection was significantly lower (0.3%) in seropositive patients v/s those who are seronegative (3%) (3).

The Abstract

We identified a total of 65 studies from 19 different countries. Our meta-analyses showed that protection from past infection and any symptomatic disease was high for ancestral, alpha, beta, and delta variants, but was substantially lower for the omicron BA.1 variant. Pooled effectiveness against re-infection by the omicron BA.1 variant was 45·3% (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 17·3–76·1) and 44·0% (26·5–65·0) against omicron BA.1 symptomatic disease. Mean pooled effectiveness was greater than 78% against severe disease (hospitalisation and death) for all variants, including omicron BA.1. Protection from re-infection from ancestral, alpha, and delta variants declined over time but remained at 78·6% (49·8–93·6) at 40 weeks. Protection against re-infection by the omicron BA.1 variant declined more rapidly and was estimated at 36·1% (24·4–51·3) at 40 weeks. On the other hand, protection against severe disease remained high for all variants, with 90·2% (69·7–97·5) for ancestral, alpha, and delta variants, and 88·9% (84·7–90·9) for omicron BA.1 at 40 weeks.

We identified 65 studies from 19 different countries (Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, France, India, Italy, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Qatar, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA; figure 1A)

h/t David B, another ian, crackar24


Covid forecasting team (2023) Past SARS-CoV-2 infection protection against re-infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Published:February 16, 2023 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(22)02465-5

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via JoNova


February 22, 2023 at 01:40PM

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