Au Naturel: Israel’s Immunity Study

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This piece is part of a new series from TAC, “Taking the Mask Off.” For more about the series, click here.

A new scientific study out of Israel last week, the largest of its kind, compared natural immunity in individuals who were previously infected with Covid-19 against immunity in individuals who had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Those who had been vaccinated were 13 times more likely to be infected with the Delta variant (what has been called a “breakthrough” infection) than those with natural immunity, the study found. Vaccinated individuals were also at a significantly higher risk of developing symptoms, and of Covid-related hospitalization, than those with natural immunity. Nine of those studied were hospitalized with Covid-19: eight vaccinated, one with natural immunity.

The study included 673,676 individuals who have been vaccinated with both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 62,883 who had been previously infected with Covid-19, and 42,099 who were previously infected with Covid-19 and had received one dose of a vaccine.

While the vaccine’s immunity has been known to wane quickly—Israel has already rolled out booster shots, like the United States, in an attempt to combat the vaccine’s short-lived effectiveness—natural immunity, the study found, lasted much longer. Population-based studies demonstrated natural immunity still hadn’t waned at least 7 months after infection, though protection was lower for those aged 65 or older. Individuals with natural immunity and a single dose of the vaccine gained additional protection, the authors noted.

The study authors conclude: “This study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer-lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant.”

If you were a real rebel in June 2020, you may have said the words “herd immunity” above a whisper. The idea that it could actually be good for individuals to be exposed to Covid-19 so they could produce antibodies naturally, as the human body does for a host of common viruses, was anathema in the early stages of the pandemic. Proponents of natural immunity at the level of the general populace were derided as having a death-wish for their neighbors.

Time, however, often vindicates the truth. The results of the Israel study, though not yet peer reviewed, reveal a devastating trend in our own government’s response to this virus: assume guilt until innocence is proven. Or rather, assume the offbeats are off their nut, until the experts discover—months of damage later, of course—those nuts were on to something. Hoping they’d admit this folly is a chimera, however, and beside the point. The point, as usual, is power.

Our government officials claim to act in the name of health and safety. Alright, then. If herd immunity is safer than a shot, we should follow the science and, at the very least, Americans should be allowed to show an antibody test—as an even better standard of clearance than a vaccination card—if we’re really so addicted to the idea of checkpoints at every stop, shop, and dining facility in a 20 mile radius from every major city.

As Covid’s infection fatality rate remains below 1 percent for any healthy person under the age of 70 years, even this improvement seems excessive. A Stanford University study in July on the infection fatality rate of Covid-19 in community-dwelling populations, which placed emphasis on the impact on the elderly, found that while the fatality rate for the elderly overall was 2.4 percent, it was 0.59 percent for individuals between 60 and 69 years of age, and even lower for each successively younger age group.

Power, not safety, seems to drive our elected and unelected officials. We can, and we should, have a conversation about safetyism—how much, and what kinds, are legitimate; where to draw the line in favor of life and its inherent risks. But these policies aren’t about safety, and they haven’t been for a while. In what other country does the highest court order a mother to be vaccinated before seeing her son, despite children’s relative low risk or said shot’s disputed effectiveness? (Answer: Australia, probably.) Mandating vaccines, as they’ve already done with masks, with eyes and ears plugged to any conversation of real effectiveness or real risk, is our ruling class’s way of flaunting before the masses that this has nothing to do with safety, or science. It’s about control. They don’t care that they’re inconsistent because they are succeeding.

Newton’s First Law of Motion remains as true in government as it is in physics. Until Americans refuse to roll with the tyranny of the inconsistent, arbitrary mandates will only continue pulling us on their path to a world as dystopian as it is contradictory.

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