Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Natural Immunity Vs Vaccination

Update:  I may have spoken too soon about the number of deaths receding. 

My usual brilliant source knew of this one and I pass it along.  Getting covid-19 is much less effective than being vaccinated.

  • More than a third of COVID-19 infections result in zero protective antibodies
  • Natural immunity fades faster than vaccine immunity
  • Natural immunity alone is less than half as effective than natural immunity plus vaccination

The part about one-third of infections resulting in zero protective antibodies was quite discouraging. 

Deaths are receding nationwide, and even though they are still high in Texas and the lower Mississippi states, they are lower than they were a month ago. Last year the spike in cases moved north in late fall and winter, but that was before widespread vaccination. Perhaps it will not happen again this year, as a one-year event is still just a one-year event, not necessarily a pattern. I would express cautious optimism, but I have done so a few times during the pandemic and been wrong, so I will not do so at this time.


ClovisPolar said...

May I respectfully suggest that you have a look at this for a different position:

Douglas2 said...

Clicking through, and then clicking through to the actual report of the study it's based on, there are two really obvious things going on:
• low nasopharyngeal viral loads don't elicit a systemic antibody response.
• Testing centers that have really amped up the PCR have a lot more people who 'test positive' yet don't develop antibodies.

Some of what we think we know about natural immunity is from early studies at a time when no-one got PCR tests unless they had symptoms of some severity. Those people developed antibodies quite effectively.

What we've got now are lots of asymptomatic people required to be regularly tested, with lots of positive tests of people that had low nasopharyngeal viral loads, and of course they don't develop immunity.

Yes, there were people who had positive covid tests, and who also had symptoms <>associated with COVID, but it doesn't look like we've any way to determine that the symptoms were because of Covid or whether they were from other cause such as cold or allergy.

So from a public policy perspective I can see why we don't want to allow recovered COVID patients to be considered 'as immune' as the vaccinated, since we've been using amped up PCR tests in a surveillance function that don't really tell us if someone actually 'had Covid'.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I think Sharyl Attkisson was badly, perhaps even criminally treated by the Obama administration and do not reject everything she writes by any means. However, I don't trust any of her writing on vaccines, as she repeatedly published the discredited link to autism even before Covid was even heard of. She leaves out what she doesn't like, and engages in advocacy journalism on this issue, not reporting.

Browsing the information at the link, she leaves out such things as the Israeli study being in the context of five times more vaccinations than infections - an important item when dealing with raw numbers - or noting that the recent spike is receding. That isn't a full explanation for what happened and there may indeed be something worth knowing about the early-vaccinating Israelis still having a serious August spike, but I can't trust her to get me that info.

Skin in the game. I keep coming back to that on this issue. I give added weight to the opinions of people who are going to pay the cost of their decisions.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Unknown's comment was not up when I was writing. This was information I had not known. thanks.

Zachriel said...

Unknown: What we've got now are lots of asymptomatic people

The majority (79%) of those in the study had moderate to severe symptoms of COVID.

Unknown: Yes, there were people who had positive covid tests, and who also had symptoms <>associated with COVID, but it doesn't look like we've any way to determine that the symptoms were because of Covid or whether they were from other cause such as cold or allergy.

Four out of five of the people studied had moderate to severe COVID symptoms and were harboring COVID viral particles. They didn't all have a cold.

Unknown: Testing centers that have really amped up the PCR have a lot more people who 'test positive' yet don't develop antibodies.

In quantitative testing, the test is run until it is positive, or after a set number of cycles (usually 40). Lower cycles implies more viral particles.

The study uses a small sample size, but suggests that someone who is infected with a small viral load doesn't acquire a substantial antibody response. Other studies have shown that vaccination after infection can help strengthen the immune response.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Unknown - I take it that surveillance testing is less useful than I have been expecting?

Douglas2 said...

I'm working on a campus with surveillance testing, and I'd say it is really useful -- The management is pretty explicit that the rate of positive tests will inform decisions such as returning to work-from-home, size of meetings allowed, allowing visitors, cafeteria being eat-in vs take-out only, etc. Complete shutdown is a possibility

And the announced number of positive tests seems to have a direct effect on ongoing behavior, so I do thing that as the circumstances dynamically change we're able to see that and respond appropriately in both formal ways and personal decisions. From conversations, many people were eating out at weekends when we were 'clear' but more and more started staying home again as they saw numbers rising.

For vaccinated people, in most weeks the testing has become optional, which I thought was unfortunate because of the usefulness-for-research of such consistent testing. Now people who aren't required to take the tests tend to choose to be tested on the optional weeks only when they're concerned about a potential exposure, or when they are feeling ill. So as a gauge of "how much covid is in this community" there is an introduced bias we didn't have when everyone was required to be tested every week.

I know many who've had illness that made them feel awful and ticked several boxes for Covid symptoms -- but who came in for testing with negative result.
I also know some who felt completely healthy but tested positive, and in all likelihood were never infectious.
I can only surmise that there would be people across categories -- feeling awful with covid-like symptoms that may not be covid, but who are told that they "have covid" with a positive test at 40 cycles -- we aren't informed of the number of cycles before positive, only 'positive' or 'negative'.

Such a person could easily think they have developed resulting immunity, when they haven't.

So surveillance testing is useful, the low threshold resulting from 40 cycles is useful in surveillance testing. But, in my view as a non-med person, for questions like "does this person need to isolate" that threshold means that we're enforcing isolation on many unnecessarily. And in my view for questions like "is this person likely to have developed active immunity" it might give useful info, but only if number of pcr cycles before positive result is reported so that there is an indicator of nasopharyngeal viral load.

Texan99 said...

I had been hoping that a vaccination might give us the best of both worlds: artificially induced immunity plus the possibility of natural immunity from an asymptomatic breakthrough infection. Too bad, it may be that you can't get the good natural immunity without suffering (and risking) a symptomatic infection--and certainly not from a questionable "infection" indicated by a false positive or excessive cycle test.

I know little about this part, but I understand there are different elements to immunity, including not only antibodies but T-cells and B-cells. Not all tests consider all three types. I hope it will turn out that some part of the population is getting a T-cell or B-cell response from asymptomatic infection.

I have good news about my vaccine-skeptic niece: she got vaccinated after all, out of consideration for her stepdad, who is immunocompromised as a result of advanced lung cancer treatments.

GraniteDad said...

Texan99, great news on your niece.

Mike Guenther said...

If I read this right, according to the CDC, the vaccine is only good for four months and the more booster shots, the greater chances of harm from the vaccines vs infection for reasonably healthy people under 65.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Mike Guenther - It doesn't matter if you read them right or not. In fact, it would be better if you didn't read them right. That is a complete abuse of the data. Don't go to that site or trust those people again. They are using the 5% of the information that supports their POV and ignoring the 95% that doesn't.

I am being rude and impatient, and you personally don't deserve that. You have been a reasonable and decent person in my interactions with you. But I am very, very impatient now after having a conversation with an evangelical I have known for decades - an entirely decent person - who is determined to believe that really...really...really, we are being lied to because Those People always lie to us and thus disbelieves everything about testing, about vaccination, about diagnosis, about deaths, about immunity. He does not "doubt." He disbelieves without even dealing with counterevidence because HE KNOWS.

There is now a core of people who do not need the least actual evidence, because someone will quickly supply some excuse why "they" are lying to us and the Real Truth is elsewhere. So I am going nuclear on sites like that. There is now a network of supposedly "skeptical" and "cautious" health-care providers who are making millions off selling ivermectin and Hcq. So much for it being Big Pharma who is ripping us off.

I'm begging you to stop believing these people. They do not have your best interests at heart.

I have to relook at my posting choices and go in a different direction.

Thomas Doubting said...

Thanks for this info, AVI. I had read about the Israeli study and had the wrong impression about this.

Mike Guenther said...

You shouldn't have to rethink your posting choices because of one or two individuals.

I really do like and read the majority of your posts, even the ones on psychology/psychiatry that I, as a layman, might not necessarily understand. (You do a decent job of dumbing it down for people like me.)

Just because you won't change my mind doesn't mean that you won't change someone else's. (My dad always said I was stubborn.)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

You are very gracious, then.

Zachriel said...

Mike Guenther: If I read this right, according to the CDC, the vaccine is only good for four months ...

A prison is a somewhat unusual situation as people in prisons are highly susceptible to transmission. The vaccine was effective when more recent and still weakly effective after 4 months. The sample is small, but vaccinated persons were less likely to be hospitalized. Also, vaccination also improved resistance even among those who had a previous infection.

Mike Guenther: and the more booster shots, the greater chances of harm from the vaccines vs infection for reasonably healthy people under 65.

Don't see where boosters are discussed, but the prison study seems to argue for booster shots.

Thomas Doubting said...

What do you think of this summary of research on natural immunity published earlier this month?


Here are the 5 key paragraphs on evidence -- they are cited in the article (the numbers at the end of the paragraphs), but you'll have to click over to get clickable citations:

“Starting from back in November, we’ve had a lot of really important studies that showed us that memory B cells and memory T cells were forming in response to natural infection,” says Gandhi. Studies are also showing, she says, that these memory cells will respond by producing antibodies to the variants at hand.91011

Gandhi included a list of some 20 references on natural immunity to covid in a long Twitter thread supporting the durability of both vaccine and infection induced immunity.12 “I stopped adding papers to it in December because it was getting so long,” she tells The BMJ.

But the studies kept coming. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study from La Jolla Institute for Immunology found “durable immune responses” in 95% of the 200 participants up to eight months after infection.13 One of the largest studies to date, published in Science in February 2021, found that although antibodies declined over 8 months, memory B cells increased over time, and the half life of memory CD8+ and CD4+ T cells suggests a steady presence.9

Real world data have also been supportive.14 Several studies (in Qatar,15 England,16 Israel,17 and the US18) have found infection rates at equally low levels among people who are fully vaccinated and those who have previously had covid-19. Cleveland Clinic surveyed its more than 50 000 employees to compare four groups based on history of SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination status.18 Not one of over 1300 unvaccinated employees who had been previously infected tested positive during the five months of the study. Researchers concluded that that cohort “are unlikely to benefit from covid-19 vaccination.” In Israel, researchers accessed a database of the entire population to compare the efficacy of vaccination with previous infection and found nearly identical numbers. “Our results question the need to vaccinate previously infected individuals,” they concluded.17

As covid cases surged in Israel this summer, the Ministry of Health reported the numbers by immunity status. Between 5 July and 3 August, just 1% of weekly new cases were in people who had previously had covid-19. Given that 6% of the population are previously infected and unvaccinated, “these numbers look very low,” says Dvir Aran, a biomedical data scientist at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, who has been analysing Israeli data on vaccine effectiveness and provided weekly ministry reports to The BMJ. While Aran is cautious about drawing definitive conclusions, he acknowledged “the data suggest that the recovered have better protection than people who were vaccinated.”

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, it may turn out that natural immunity is as good, particularly along the dimension of how long it lasts. The research data is not uniform.

Thomas Doubting said...

Yeah, I guess this is one of those things the research will eventually sort out. I'm just impatient to know. Thanks.

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