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Originally published on The Defender, Children’s Health Defense’s News + Views website.
A Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial board member Sunday called out the press and public health officials — who are now affirming “natural immunity” protects against COVID-19 — for spending three years disparaging natural immunity despite overwhelming evidence supporting it.
In her WSJ opinion piece — “Three Years Late, the Lancet Recognizes Natural Immunity?” — Allysia Finley wrote:
“The Lancet study’s vindication of natural immunity fits a pandemic pattern: The public-health clerisy rejects an argument that ostensibly threatens its authority; eventually it’s forced to soften its position in the face of incontrovertible evidence; and yet not once does it acknowledge its opponents were right.”
Finley began her op-ed with a quote from a Feb. 16 NBC article describing the Lancet findings:
“Immunity acquired from a Covid infection is as protective as vaccination against severe illness and death, study finds.”
The study found that prior infection offered 78.6% protection against reinfection from the original Wuhan, Alpha or Delta variants at 40 weeks, and 36.1% against Omicron. Protection against severe illness remained around 90% across all variants after 40 weeks. Those results mean that natural immunity provides protection equal to or better than two or three doses of the mRNA vaccines, as The Defender reported.
The idea that prior COVID-19 infection would protect against future illness was “deeply rooted in immunology before studies bore it out,” Finley explained. Repeat exposure to respiratory viruses trains our immune systems to live with and fight off viruses as they become endemic.
“The concept of natural immunity isn’t scientifically controversial, yet it was disparaged by public-health officials who associated it with opposition to lockdowns and the Great Barrington Declaration in autumn 2020,” she wrote.
The “Great Barrington Declaration” proposed to protect vulnerable people while allowing those at low risk from COVID-19 to “live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection,” with the goal of minimizing deaths and social harms until herd immunity was reached.
She added that although herd immunity became elusive because the virus mutated, the central premise of the declaration was correct, “As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all — including the vulnerable — falls.”
The “public-health clerisy” feared that if people understood natural immunity, it would encourage them to get infected intentionally or discourage them from getting vaccinated, she wrote. But, there was no evidence for the first assertion, and the second one was “no reason to deny scientific reality.”
So instead of acknowledging reality, this “clerisy” mandated vaccines even for people who had been previously infected and tech companies censored discussion of natural immunity online, which fueled suspicion by vaccine skeptics.
Now could be the time to make it right. Finley concluded:
“The Lancet study could serve a useful political purpose by giving public-health officials cover to relax vaccine mandates, which in turn could reduce resistance to vaccines. But this would require the clerisy to concede its opponents were right.”
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