GOP adopts natural immunity as an alternative to vaccines

GOP adopts natural immunity as an alternative to vaccines

Tallahassee Florida. Republicans fighting President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandates are using a new weapon against White House rules: natural immunity.

They maintain that people who have recovered from the virus have enough immunity and enough antibodies to not need COVID-19 vaccines, and Republicans have based this concept as a kind of alternative vaccine.

Florida put natural immunity into state law this week as Republican lawmakers elsewhere push similar measures to bypass vaccine mandates. Lawsuits involving states also began to build on the idea. Conservative federal lawmakers have appealed to regulators to take them into account when drafting states.

Scientists acknowledge that people previously infected with COVID-19 have a certain level of immunity, but these vaccines provide a more consistent level of protection. And natural immunity is far from a one-size-fits-all scenario, which makes enacting blanket exceptions for vaccines complicated.


That’s because how much immunity COVID-19 survivors have depends on how long they’ve been infected, how sick they are, and whether the type of virus they have is different from the mutants circulating now. For example, someone who had a minor issue a year ago is very different from someone who had a serious condition during the summer when the delta variant was raging across the country. It’s also difficult to get a reliable test to see if someone is protected from future infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in August that COVID-19 survivors who ignored vaccination advice were twice as likely to be infected again. A recent study from the CDC, looking at data from nearly 190 hospitals in nine states, found that unvaccinated people who had been infected months earlier were five times more likely to develop COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people. who did not have it before. infection.


“Infection with this virus, if you survive, you have a certain level of protection against future infection and especially against serious future infection,” said Dr. David Dowdy of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It is important to note that even those who have been infected in the past receive additional protection from vaccination.”

Studies also show that COVID-19 survivors who are vaccinated develop super-strong protection, so-called “hybrid immunity.” When a previously infected person gets a coronavirus vaccine, the shot acts as a booster and accelerates virus-fighting antibodies to high levels. The compound also strengthens another defensive layer of the immune system, helping to form new antibodies that are more likely to withstand future variants.

The immunity controversy comes as the country is experiencing another surge in infections and hospitalizations and 60 million people remain unvaccinated in a pandemic that has killed more than 770,000 Americans. Biden hopes more people will be vaccinated because of the workplace mandates set to take effect early next year but faces many challenges in the courts.


Many Republicans eager to resist Biden have made the argument that immunity from previous infections should be sufficient to obtain an exemption from the mandates.

“We realize, unlike what you see happening with proposed federal states and other states, we’re actually taking a science-based approach. For example, we’re identifying people who have natural immunity,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican who was A major critic of virus rules, at a signing ceremony for sweeping legislation to block vaccine mandates this week.

Florida’s new law forces private companies to allow workers to opt out of their COVID-19 mandates if they can demonstrate immunity through prior infection, as well as exemptions based on medical reasons, religious beliefs, regular testing or agreement to wear protective clothing. The state health department, headed by Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladabo, who is opposed to mandates and has drawn national attention due to a refusal to wear a face mask during a meeting, will have the authority to set the exemption criteria.


The Republican-led New Hampshire legislature plans to take similar action when it meets in January. Lawmakers in Idaho and Wyoming, both state houses controlled by the Republican Party, recently discussed but did not pass similar measures. In Utah, a newly signed law creates exceptions to Biden’s vaccine mandates for private employers, and allows people to waive the requirement if they already have COVID.

And the controversy is not confined to the United States, Russia has seen huge numbers of people seeking antibody tests to prove they have a previous infection, and therefore do not need vaccines.

Some politicians are using the science behind natural immunity to advance narratives that vaccines are not the best way to end the pandemic.

“The shot is by no means the only or proven way out of the epidemic. I am not willing to give blind faith to the pharmaceutical narrative,” Idaho Republican Representative Greg Firch said.


U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, a Republican and a physician from Kansas, along with 14 other GOP doctors, dentists and pharmacists in Congress, sent a letter in late September to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging the agency, when setting vaccination policies, to consider natural immunity.

The White House recently unveiled a raft of vaccine mandates, sparking a flurry of lawsuits from GOP states, setting the stage for fierce legal battles. Among the rules are vaccine requirements for federal contractors, companies with more than 100 employees and health care workers.

In separate lawsuits, others are challenging local vaccine rules using immune defense.

A 19-year-old student who refuses to be tested but claims to have contracted and recovered quickly from COVID-19 is suing the University of Nevada, Reno, the governor and others over the state’s requirement that everyone, with a few exceptions, show proof. Vaccination for enrollment in classes next spring. The case alleges that “the COVID-19 vaccination mandates are an unconstitutional interference with natural immunity and physical integrity.”


Another case, brought by Los Alamos National Laboratory workers, is challenging their workplace vaccine mandate for violations of civil rights and the Constitution, arguing that the lab denied requests for medical facilities for those workers who had fully recovered from COVID-19.

A similar lawsuit from Chicago firefighters and other city employees hit a snag last month when a judge said their case lacked scientific evidence to support the claim that the natural immunity of people who’ve contracted the virus outweighs protection from a vaccine.


Associated Press medical writer Laurent Niergaard contributed to this report.

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