Updated Letter to Institutions Re: Natural Immunity
The large and credible Israeli study showing that vaccinated people are 13 times more like to be infected with covid than are those with natural immunity came out just after I published my earlier letter on this topic. Given that, I think it is worthwhile to publish an updated version.
Please feel free to use this letter in whole or in part, with no credit given, if you would like to similarly influence institutions you are connected to.
In the policies of ______, I urge you to treat those of us who have already had covid in the same manner as you treat those who have been vaccinated. In this letter I will lay out the logic and data behind this request.
The evidence is clear and abundant that the protection provided by previous infection (which I will refer to here as “natural immunity”) is more powerful and durable than that provided by the current vaccines.
Many things about covid are difficult to know with a high degree of certainty. They might require, for example, sorting out questions of cause and effect, or weighing the costs and benefits of a policy. However, this is not one of those things. To know with a very high degree of certainty the superiority of natural immunity over vaccine immunity, all you need to be able to do is count.
There is abundant data about the frequency of reinfection of those with natural immunity, and even now, 20 months into the pandemic, it remains extremely rare. Here are some examples:
Israel - Israel tracks reinfections and publishes results periodically. This study confirms that during the Delta surge, vaccinated people are 13 times as likely to be infected as are those with immunity from prior infection.
England - Public Health England tracks reinfections for the entire country, and publishes the data regularly. It shows possible reinfections in England at 0.7% and confirmed reinfections at 0.0026%. In other words, basically zero reinfections since the beginning of the pandemic.
Cleveland Clinic - the Cleveland Clinic did a study and found that zero of their 1,359 employees who had been infected with covid got it again over the course of a five months study.
They concluded: "Individuals who have had SARS-CoV-2 infection are unlikely to benefit from COVID-19 vaccination, and vaccines can be safely prioritized to those who have not been infected before."
Overall Reinfection Database - there is a worldwide database of covid re-infections maintained here:
It shows just 82,000 suspected and 169 confirmed cases of reinfection to date. With 213 million covid cases to date, the percentages of re-infection are obviously vanishingly small.
Other Studies - there are many other studies confirming the superiority of natural immunity as compared to vaccine induces immunity. Here is an article that clearly summarizes 15 of them.
Post Vaccination Infection
Unfortunately, as I am sure you are well aware, cases of infection of those who have been vaccinated are no longer rare at all. Hopefully there is lasting protection for the vaccinated against severe disease, but it is clear that the protection against becoming infected and passing on the infection degrades rapidly within just a few months. I will for the moment assume that this point is not controversial, but I am happy to provide more data on this if it would be helpful.
So, it is overwhelmingly clear that vaccinated people without natural immunity are far more likely to contract and spread covid than are unvaccinated people with natural immunity. There is not a shred of evidence from real world populations to the contrary.
Other Things You have Likely Heard
You may have heard the CDC or others say that “we just don’t know how long immunity from having been infected with covid lasts”. That is true, because covid has only been around for about 20 months, but we certainly know that it nearly always lasts longer than the 20 months covid has been around! And we also know with certainty that that it lasts much, much longer than the immunity from vaccines. And THAT is the relevant point here.
You may have heard that antibody levels immediately after vaccination are higher than they are in people post-infection. This is true, but it is also irrelevant. The initial antibody response from the vaccines is higher, but it declines much more rapidly. More importantly, this is just one part of the complex human immune response, the shorter-lived part. T cells and B cells are what provide the longer term immunity. So these initial antibody levels are somewhat meaningless. In any case, what actually matters is the long term measured performance in preventing infection and disease and we now have plenty of that information, as is described above.
You may have heard that people with natural immunity who then get vaccinated are even less likely to become reinfected. This may or may not be true, but it is irrelevant to the question at hand.
The Superiority of Natural Immunity is a Normal Expectation
There should be nothing surprising about this result. The standard scientific understanding of vaccines has always accepted that vaccine immunity is nearly always less complete than natural immunity. This from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says it well:
How Can the Public Health Establishment be So Wrong?
I realize that what I am telling you is completely contrary to what you have likely heard in the media, from the CDC, and from other “experts”. I feel I need to address the question of how it could be that all these distinguished people and institutions could be so disastrously and obviously wrong on this topic. I am veering into the realm of opinion here, but I feel I must because it is very difficult for most people, including me, to wrap their heads around this situation. In need of a label, I will refer to the group in question as the “Public Health Establishment”.
Much earlier in the pandemic discussion arose about the concept of “herd immunity” and what levels of immunity would be required to cause the pandemic to recede. At this time, the CDC and most of the rest of the Public Health Establishment came out very strongly against strategies, like that of the Great Barrington Declaration, that advocated focused protection of the vulnerable while allowing the virus to spread and immunity to develop in the less vulnerable portions of the population.
As part of their campaign against this point of view, the Public Health Establishment regularly cast doubt upon the entire concept of naturally acquired immunity. The well-publicized “John Snow Memorandum”, written in October of 2020 in response to the Great Barrington Declaration, states “there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection”.
Even when written, that was a bit of an absurd statement, as there had already been about nine months to observe covid reinfections or the lack thereof, and there had been essentially zero of them.
Now, with nearly another year of data in hand and natural immunity continuing to perform spectacularly well, to assert “no evidence of lasting immunity to SARS-CoV-@ following natural infection” is just madness.
But the Public Health Establishment, with rare exceptions, has remained locked into its position. It appears that they are simply unwilling to admit they were wrong, and now appear more absurd and clueless with each passing day.
Signs of Progress
The failure to recognize natural immunity has greatly eroded the credibility of public health officials. But there are some signs of progress, some institutions that have policies that do recognize natural immunity. The Israeli Defense Force does. Kettering Health in Ohio does, at least partially. George Mason University was sued by a professor, and ended up granting him a medical exemption from vaccine requirements because of this natural immunity.
_______ has the potential to do something really important here by setting a good example that is consistent with the scientific facts and fair to the individuals involved. Given our stature in the community, I think this could set an important precedent for other institutions that would like to do the right thing but are afraid of being the only ones to do so.
Just to be clear, in this letter and in my request to you I am not taking any position about the wisdom or lack thereof of immunity requirements or other covid measures. I do have my opinions of those broader matters, but all I am saying here is that if there are to be any requirements around immunity, they need to recognize natural immunity as at least a peer of vaccine immunity. To do otherwise is, as I have explained, profoundly in opposition to very clear scientific evidence.
My recommended change to policy is that any mention or requirement for “vaccination” should simply change to “immunity”, with the two recognized paths to immunity being vaccination or previous infection.
Thank you for your attention and the chance to present this argument.