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What is natural immunity from COVID-19?

In a CDC report, published January 19, 2022, of COVID-19 cases in California and New York, from May-November 2021, researchers found that before the emergence of the delta variant of SARS-Cov-2, recent vaccination was more protective against new infection than natural immunity. However, “after July, recent international studies have also demonstrated increased protection in persons with previous infection, with or without vaccination, relative to vaccination alone.”

There are now more than 65 million people in the U.S. who have recovered from COVID-19. While vaccination was promoted as a protection against severe disease, hospitalizations and death, the CDC is finally acknowledging the strong protection provided from immunity after infection: “naturally acquired immunity.”

So, what is naturally acquired immunity?



Historically, vaccines utilized non-pathogenic material to mimic the immunological response of a natural infection, to confer immunity in the event of pathogen exposure. An implicit assumption behind vaccination is that the vaccine protects against future exposure, while avoiding the serious health impacts of actual infection.

We are born with an intelligent innate immune capacity to interact with and adapt to ever changing environmental information. During our lifetime, we continually build natural immunity (antibodies) in response to various exposures, similar to a process of infection recognition and recovery. In other words, infection teaches our innate immunity to recognize, adapt to, and better respond to ever more evolving circulating variants.



The innate immunity of the unvaccinated can generate antibodies capable of responding specifically to circulating variants, enhancing more robust and long-lasting immunity. Currently, omicron and its sub-variants can bypass vaccine induced antibodies.

Globally, vaccinated people are becoming increasingly susceptible to omicron and sub-variant infection. Continuous vaccination and boosting can cause viral mutations to escape vaccine-induced antibodies and become more resistant, infectious, and potentially more virulent, contributing to increased hospitalizations and deaths among the vaccinated and boosted.

Regardless of vaccination status, supporting our innate immune response can help to reduce severity of COVID illness in adults and children who are in good health, contributing to naturally acquired herd immunity.

Public health authorities now offer newly developed antiviral drugs under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), as an option to continual boosting. President Biden announced the “Test to Treat” initiative, a plan that allows Americans who test positive for COVID-19 at a pharmacy to get free antiviral pills with their doctor’s prescription.

According to the World Health Organization, the rationale for implementing booster doses should be guided by evidence on waning vaccine effectiveness, a decline in protection against severe disease in the general population or in high risk populations, or due to circulating variants-of-concern. “To date, evidence remains limited and inconclusive on any widespread need for booster doses following a primary vaccination series.”

Dr. Peter Marks, FDA Director for Biologics Evaluation and Research, stated at the 170th meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meeting on April 6, 2022, that boosting every 4-6 weeks is not sustainable and that people are exhausted and fed-up with vaccinations.

What is certain is the need for enhanced treatment approaches for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Naturally acquired herd immunity offers superior protection. A mass antiviral prophylaxis campaign to reduce infectious transmission is a fundamental priority. An informed public can make critical health choices about early treatment options or continuing vaccination. Many protocols developed by doctors treating COVID use synergistic approaches that include antibiotics, Zinc, vitamins D3 and C and other therapeutics in addition to using antivirals alone.

Article sources can be found in The Union’s online version.

Pauli Halstead is the author of “Primal Cuisine: Cooking for the Paleo Diet” and Joy Brann, MPH, works in health education and policy

ANTIVIRALS

As an addition to the vaccination strategy, the FDA has recently authorized two antivirals; Pfizer’s Paxlovid ($530/per course) and Merck’s Molnupiravir ($700/per course). Both drugs have multiple side effects (see fact sheets in sources online). National news is now reporting incidents of relapsing symptoms following the course of Paxlovid treatment.

The July/August 2021 issue of the American Journal of Therapeutics published a meta-analysis of Merck’s drug ivermectin, suggesting antiviral efficacy for COVID-19. Eighty-two completed ivermectin studies, in mostly low-and middle-income countries, show results in reducing serious symptoms and hospitalization.

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