RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The global debate of Covid mRNA vaccine mandates and passports has ignited social media, policymakers, and policies that impact just nearly every aspect of public life.
According to a new Israeli study, the natural immune protection that develops after a SARS-CoV-2 infection offers considerably more of a shield against the Delta variant of the pandemic coronavirus than two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
It’s the largest real-world observational study so far to compare natural and vaccine-induced immunity to SARS-CoV-2, according to its leaders.
Researchers at Maccabi Healthcare and Tel Aviv University compared the outcomes of over 76,000 Israelis in three groups.
The groups in the study were:
1. the doubly vaccinated (with the Pfizer vaccine)
2. Previously Covid infected but unvaccinated
3. Previously Covid infected with only a single vaccine dose
The newly released data show people who once had a SARS-CoV-2 infection were much less likely than vaccinated people to get Delta, develop symptoms from it, or become hospitalized with serious Covid-19.COMIRNATY is the brand name for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. Now that the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the FDA.
The Israeli researchers discovered that immunity acquired through infection from Covid-19 is superior to immunity from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The study also found that fully vaccinated but uninfected people were significantly more likely to have a “breakthrough” Covid infection than people who had previously been infected and recovered from the disease.
“This study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer-lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant,” the authors conclude.
The study, conducted in one of the most highly Covid-19–vaccinated countries in the world, examined the medical records of tens of thousands of Israelis, charting their infections, symptoms, and hospitalizations between 1 June and 14 August, when the Delta variant predominated in Israel.
No one in the study who got a new SARS-CoV-2 infection died—which prevented comparison of death rates but is a clear sign that vaccines still offer a formidable shield against serious disease, even if not as good as natural immunity.
For many infectious diseases, naturally acquired immunity is more powerful than vaccine-induced immunity, and it often lasts a lifetime. Other coronaviruses that cause the serious human disease SARS and the MERS trigger robust and persistent immune responses.
At the same time, several other human coronaviruses, which usually cause little more than colds, are known to reinfect people regularly.
Keep in mind, the Israeli study is only published as a preprint at this stage and has not been peer-reviewed. There was no external funding for the project.
HERD IMMUNITY MUST BE ACHIEVED BY VIRUS TRANSMISSION SAYS ICELAND AFTER FULL VACCINATION
Thorolfur Guðnason, Iceland’s epidemiologist, believes that the country must now try to achieve herd immunity to the coronavirus by letting it continue, but try to prevent severe disease by protecting vulnerable groups.
He said the goal at this point could not be to eradicate the virus from the community.
A record number of infected people have been diagnosed in recent weeks, even though most of the population has been vaccinated.
“There’s really nothing else we can do,” Guðnason confirmed when asked if 70- to 80-year-olds need to catch the disease to achieve herd immunity.
Iceland is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with 71.3% fully immunized people. The country has also managed to simultaneously boost its economy and have one of the lowest death rates in the world.
This has been done safely with the help of the country’s effective track and trace system, rigorous testing, and social distancing.