by UnHerd
Thursday, 26
August 2021

‘Bombshell’ study finds natural immunity superior to vaccination

If the findings are confirmed, the implications for Covid policy will be profound
by UnHerd
Credit: Getty

A major study conducted by Israeli researchers into natural immunity has found that immunity acquired via infection from Covid-19 is superior to immunity from the Pfizer vaccine.

Researchers at Maccabi Healthcare and Tel Aviv University compared the outcomes of over 76,000 Israelis in three groups: the doubly vaccinated (with the Pfizer vaccine), the previously infected but unvaccinated, and the previously infected with only a single vaccine dose.

They 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 hospitalisation caused by the Delta variant,” the authors conclude.

The study is only published as a preprint at this stage and has not been peer reviewed. Critics including British immunologist Andrew Croxford have pointed out potential limitations, but it has been described by infectious diseases expert Professor Francois Balloux as a “bombshell” development.

If the findings are confirmed, the implications for global Covid policy will be profound.

It would not undermine the importance of vaccination for more vulnerable groups in society. However it would weaken the case for vaccinating children, despite the programme being confirmed in the UK today, as they (and the people around them) would get superior future protection from contracting the disease. And it would pose a fundamental challenge to the singular emphasis on vaccine passports for travel and large events, if unvaccinated people who have already had Covid actually pose less of a risk.

Join the discussion

  • I have a “bombshell” question: why is there a global assumption that everyone SHOULD AND WILL get this virus? How about those 97% of the world population, 89% of American population or 90.5% percent of British population that never got it and NEVER WILL? Cancer and heart disease are many many times more spread than this virus. Not everyone (FAR not everyone) got it or will ever get it – for many reasons, one of them being our natural immunity to coronaviruses. How come a 100% vaccination is needed globally when on;y 3% of the world population ever got it – and even that according to unreliable and unsuitable for the purpose PCR tests? If in 1.5 year only 3% of the world population got that virus, what is the probability that even 20% of the world population will ever get this virus any time soon? How many years do we need so at least 50% of the population gets the virus? 10, 20, 30 years? And why are there lockdowns and total masking, if the risk to ever get it (in symptomatic or asymptomatic form) is so low? What happened to risk assessments and probability?

  • I agree that they should have made a clear distinction between all three categories (naive & doubly vaccinated; previously infected & unvaccinated; previously infected & vaccinated with a single dose). But even if there were no unvaccinated people in the sample at all, it is still remarkable that the protection by a previous infection + one dose outperforms the naive cases that are doubly vaccinated.
    At least this may revise the mysterious claim held by many an expert earlier this year that immunity after infection was inferior (and shorter lived) than immunity after vaccination.

  • ‘Naive’ is medical jargon for ‘haven’t been exposed to it’ or ‘haven’t been infected with it’, depending. There is a bit of a problem with diseases (such as covid) where there is significant asymptomatic infection. There ‘naive’ may only mean ‘never got sick enough to take a test at a point in time when the test could measure the presence of the infection, or the presence of antibodies which demonstrate a prior infection’. It would be useful to know how many people get sick and never notice it, and if there is any relationship between how sick you got and how long and effective your immunity is.

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