Those recovering from COVID-19 develop a natural immune response against the virus. According to a new study, this immunity is much greater compared to the immune protection offered by the vaccine. The research shows that those infected with Coronavirus have a much lower chance of being infected with the Delta variant or getting severe symptoms from it. “It’s a textbook example of how natural immunity is really better than vaccination. To my knowledge, it’s the first time [this] has really been shown in the context of COVID-19,” explains immunology researcher Charlotte Thålin.
While the study does prove that the human immune system has the ability to handle severe disease successfully, researchers caution people that intentional infection is not a solution to fight the virus. “What we don’t want people to say is: ‘All right, I should go out and get infected, I should have an infection party.’ Because somebody could die,” explains immunologist Michel Nussenzweig. Researchers also acknowledge that their study only focuses on the immune response but does not take into account the damage the virus does to the body. Therefore, recovering COVID-19 patients might have a more robust immune response against the virus but deal at the same time with the long-term effects of the disease.
The study also revealed that those who were previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 and then received a vaccine shot of Pfizer have an even greater immune response to the virus. “We continue to underestimate the importance of natural infection immunity … especially when [infection] is recent. And when you bolster that with one dose of vaccine, you take it to levels you can’t possibly match with any vaccine in the world right now.” says scientist Eric Topol. The study used data from 2.5 million Israelis.