Does natural immunity provide a better defense than vaccines?

new preliminary report from medRviv posits that natural immunity may provide a stronger defense against the Delta variant of Covid-19 than vaccines do.

This is especially relevant considering the Delta variant is responsible for 99% of all new cases in the U.S. — in addition to being the catalyst for new legislation that some Americans find unconstitutional.

The new report hasn’t been peer-reviewed, and is not meant to guide medical strategies.

Natural immunity may reduce disease severity

Unvaccinated patients involved in the new study who were previously infected with the novel coronavirus are not only suspected to be protected against COVID for longer periods of time than those who have “two-dose vaccine-induced immunity,” but they may also be less likely to develop symptomatic manifestations of the disease and to be hospitalized upon reinfection.

More directly, the authors of the new report say that vaccinated participants were 27 times more likely to get a symptomatic COVID case than those with natural immunity from COVID.

Comparing natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published data suggesting fully vaccinated populations who get infected with Covid-19 carry a comparable amount of viral particles in their throat and nasal passages as unvaccinated individuals. This means that fully vaccinated people can still spread the Delta variant to others.

“High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky wrote.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both seem to work best at the six-month mark. Both companies plan on offering booster shots before the end of the month. Because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was authorized after Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, there is a limited amount of data regarding long-term efficacy.

“Right now, some forms of vaccine effectiveness are slipping, but the most important ones aren’t,” Katherine J. Wu wrote in The Atlantic. “Unless that changes, widespread boosters in already vaccinated countries are likely to provide diminishing returns, like topping off a drink that’s already on the verge of spilling over.”

It’s important to remember that the sole purpose of a vaccine isn’t to eliminate the presence of a virus entirely. Making the consequences of a virus more manageable on a national and global level is also a major component of successful vaccine rollout.

We have evidence that all of the current vaccines have achieved this much when we look at hospitalizations and death rates among vaccinated populations who get infected with the Delta variant.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the unvaccinated are roughly 15 times more likely to develop fatal manifestations of Covid-19 than the vaccinated.

Preliminary research indicates those who received Moderna’s two-dose vaccine evidence slightly more antibodies than those who received Pfizer’s though there isn’t enough information to declare either to be definitively more effective.

“The mRNA vaccines are a novel tool that hasn’t been widely rolled out with any other virus, and so far in clinical trials they have had a much more robust immune response,” Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist Jaimie Meyer, MD, MS explained. “Whatever the answer to the question of which will last the longest, the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines work similarly, so it seems likely that they will have a similar impact on immunity.”

Most health experts initially theorize that natural immunity was the most robust before the six-month mark as well, though the Food and Drug Administration suspected it to last even longer.

“With SARS and MERS, we saw people who got more sick ended up having more durable immunity. We don’t know if that’s the case with this SARS-CoV-2 virus, but it might be,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who is the former commissioner for the FDA told CNBC Make it.

“I think on the balance it’s unclear whether vaccine-induced immunity is better, slightly better, slightly worse, than” natural immunity.”

It’s much more sound to get vaccinated as oppose to willingly exposing yourself to COVID in the pursuit of persistent immunity because there isn’t a reliable way to predict the severity of disease.

The new medRxiv report makes a strong against requiring mandates for those who have been previously infected with COVID if their recovery occurred within the six-month window cited above.

If further research substantiates these findings (15 independently conducted studies have already arrived at similar conclusions), we may see major addendums made to the current vaccine mandates being pitched by U.S firms as well as international and federal health systems.