Natural Immunity Should Not Be Ignored

Dear Editor,

President Biden announced dramatic steps to “encourage” COVID-19 vaccination.  State governments have constitutional authority to require vaccinations.  The 1905 Supreme Court decision in Jacobson v Massachusetts set this precedent.  However, natural immunity was not considered in that case.  This is because smallpox was incredibly lethal to every demographic, especially compared to COVID-19.

The risk-reward balance was much different in that case.  In growing numbers of research, natural immunity to COVID-19 provides greater protection than currently available vaccines.  It is true that we don’t know how long this natural immunity lasts, but we also do not know how long vaccine immunity lasts.  We do not even know if boosters work.  We do know that COVID began inducing natural immunity many months, almost a year, before vaccines were available.  So, depending on the research design, countless enrollees in research were infected much earlier, for much longer, than those receiving the vaccine.  

Until specifically designed time comparison studies are conducted, we have to assume that since COVID was circulating before vaccination became available, that natural immunity lasts at least that much longer than vaccine induced immunity.  If the early infected lost protection, they still would be included in the math of many current research designs, watering down the benefits of natural immunity compared to vaccination.  If you take those early infected out, assuming they lost immunity over time, the later infected would have been even more beneficial than vaccination.  Natural immunity should be considered in policy making.

Many public health advisors have vocally recommended punishing vaccine holdouts.  There is no need for prior infected to pay for weekly COVID tests.  There is no need to force companies to force employees with natural immunity to receive COVID vaccination.  From everything we know, those with natural immunity are less likely than those vaccinated to become infected.  So, an effective policy mandating testing would force all individuals, especially those never infected receiving vaccine, to receive weekly testing.  Weekly testing is nothing more than punishment for defending science.

 There is no need, no proven benefit, to force someone to receive a vaccine, to become susceptible to vaccine side effects, when they already survived the disease.

Alan Burke