Originally published by Brownstone Institute.
A strange feature of rhetoric during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic that came to public notice in early 2020 was the odd silence about the immune system. Whereas in the past, vaccines and natural exposure were regarded as partners in disease mitigation, this time they were set up in competition, with all respectable voices pushing vaccines and shouting down anyone who dared break the silence about natural forces.
That propaganda push started 18 months ago but it has now completely unraveled. The largest study yet comparing Covid vaccines to natural infection has produced results that would have surprised no one 50 years ago. “Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections” demonstrates that natural immunity is more powerful and broader in terms of preventing infection – a truism of cell biology known and refined over the ages. This is consistent with many other studies over the past year, as explained by Jay Battacharya, Sunetra Gupta, and Martin Kulldorff.
Experience with Covid-19 is a textbook case of how the immune system scales naturally to take on the newest pathogens that have always and will always vex the world. The vaccine (especially one using a new innovation rather than a traditional inoculation) for this type of virus – respiratory, widespread, and mild for most – will necessarily be more hit-and-miss, simply because of the pace of mutation and the emergence of variants.
The Isreali study is notable only because of the scope of the study and the precision of the results. Reuters summarizes the study in English:
The results are good news for patients who already successfully battled Covid-19, but show the challenge of relying exclusively on immunizations to move past the pandemic. People given both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were almost six-fold more likely to contract a delta infection and seven-fold more likely to have symptomatic disease than those who recovered.
The report from Unherd offers a helpful graphic:
Now to the problem: the overselling of the vaccine and the deprecation of natural immunity. Who was responsible? Indeed, WHO was responsible.
Let’s have a look at their FAQ concerning herd immunity. The site was actually changed dramatically over the last twelve months, at one point even removing entirely the possibility that natural infection makes any contribution at all to creating herd immunity. The head of the WHO routinely pushed the idea that the new vaccines have created a great new way to be immune without ever being exposed to the virus.
Herd immunity is a fascinating observation that you can trace to biological reality or statistical probability theory, whichever you prefer. It is certainly not a “strategy” so ignore any media source that describes it that way. When a virus kills its host – that is, when a virus overtaxes the body’s ability to integrate it, its host dies and so the virus does not spread to others. The more this occurs, the less it spreads. If the virus doesn’t kill its host, it can hop to others through all the usual means.
When you get such a virus and fight it off, your immune system encodes that information in a way that builds immunity to it. When it happens to enough people (and each case is different so we can’t put a clear number on it, especially given so many cross immunities) the virus loses its pandemic quality and becomes endemic, which is to say predictable and manageable. Each new generation incorporates that information through more exposure.
This is what one would call virology/immunology 101. It’s what you read in every textbook. It’s been taught in 9th-grade cell biology for probably 80 years. Observing the operations of this evolutionary phenomenon is pretty wonderful because it increases one’s respect for the way in which human biology has adapted to the presence of pathogens without absolutely freaking out.
And the discovery of this fascinating dynamic in cell biology is a major reason why public health became so smart in the 20th century. We kept calm. We managed viruses with medical professionals: doctor/patient relationships. We avoided the Medieval tendency to run around with hair on fire but rather used rationality and intelligence.
One day, this strange institution called the World Health Organization – once glorious because it was mainly responsible for the eradication of smallpox – suddenly decided to delete everything I just wrote from cell biology basics. It literally changed the science in a Soviet-like way. It removed with the delete key any mention of natural immunities from its website. It took the additional step of actually mischaracterizing the structure and functioning of vaccines.
Here is the website from June 9, 2020. You can see it here on Archive.org. You have to move down the page and click on the question about herd immunity. You see the following.
That’s accurate overall. Even the statement that the threshold is “not yet clear” is correct. There are cross immunities to Covid from other coronaviruses and there is T-cell memory that contributes to natural immunity.
However, in a screenshot dated November 13, 2020, we read the following note that somehow pretends as if human beings do not have immune systems at all but rather rely entirely on big pharma to inject things into our blood.
What this note at the World Health Organization did was delete what amounts to the entire history of humankind in its delicate dance with pathogens. You could only gather from this that all of us are nothing but blank and unimprovable slates on which the pharmaceutical industry writes its signature.
In addition, the editorial change at WHO ignored and even wiped out 100 years of medical advances in virology, immunology, and epidemiology. It is thoroughly unscientific – shilling for the vaccine industry in exactly the way the conspiracy theorists say that WHO has been doing since the beginning of this pandemic.
What’s even more strange is the claim that a vaccine protects people from a virus rather than exposing them to it. A traditional vaccine works precisely by firing up the immune system through exposure. This has been known for centuries. There is simply no way for medical science completely to replace the human immune system. It can only game it via what used to be called inoculation. By ruling out exposure, the WHO seems even to be rejecting the methods of J&J in favor of Moderna and Pfizer, which use mRNA strategies. Talk about picking winners and losers in technology!
Finally on January 4, 2021: WHO has changed its definition yet again, to re-incorporate the obvious reality of natural immunity.
This claim that vaccines for the population rather than exposure are overall better is stated here as a matter of dogma when in reality this is an empirical question. If the vaccine does not deliver immunity in a way that is long lasting and broad – and cannot do so in a way that assures the population of its safety – the dogma pushed by WHO is potentially false.
For a year and a half, the media has been telling us that “science” requires that we comply with their dictates that run contrary to every tenet of liberalism, every expectation we’ve developed in the modern world that we can live freely and with the certainty of rights. Then “science” took over and our human rights were slammed. And now the “science” actually deleted its own history, airbrushing over what it used to know and replacing it with something misleading at best and patently false at worst. Let there be no mystery why public confidence in public health is at a low.
I cannot say why, exactly, the WHO did this back flipping on basic scientific facts. Given the events of the last two years, however, it is reasonable to assume that politics were at play. Since the beginning of the pandemic, those who have been pushing lockdowns, hysteria, and vaccine mandates have resisted the idea of natural herd immunity, instead insisting that we must live in lockdown fear – masked up and isolation – until we can all get vaccinated. Now that the vaccines have not worked to provide protection against variants, infections, or transmission, there is a desperate scramble taking place to rescue the effort with endless boosters, and continued masking and fear.
The science has not changed; only the politics have. And that is precisely why it is so dangerous and deadly to subject virus management to the forces of politics. Eventually the science too bends to the duplicitous character of the political industry.
The studies suggesting that the WHO got it wrong seem to be pouring out by the day. A new study by UCSF found that “78% of infections in fully vaccinated people among the study were caused by variants with these mutations, compared to 48% of the cases among unvaccinated people… The findings add to a growing list of studies that are unraveling why the vaccinated are still so susceptible to infection — and provide a deeper understanding of what we may encounter in the future.”
In addition, another study has found that “in vaccinated subjects, antibody titers decreased by up to 40% each subsequent month while in convalescents they decreased by less than 5% per month.” And this is why Fauci and so many others are now talking about boosters every 5 months. The vaccine is not the golden ticket that WHO claimed it was and nor is natural immunity something so barbaric and unthinkable that it should be deleted from the WHO’s website and restored only after a social-media storm of protest.
There will surely be more studies showing the same in the coming months and years. The WHO’s efforts to game the science, manipulate the public, and delete the truth will surely lead to its discrediting for many years. One hopes that the WHO in the future will stick to science rather than allow its once-vaunted reputation to be manipulated and abused by political and industrial interests that do not have the best interests of the public in mind.
This post was originally published by Brownstone Institute.
Author: Jeffrey A. Tucker
Jeffrey A. Tucker is founder and president of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and ten books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown. He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.