The authors studied the contrast between vaccine immunity and immunity from prior infection as it relates to stimulating the innate T-cell immunity, which is more durable than adaptive immunity through antibodies alone. They concluded, “In COVID-19 patients, immune responses were characterized by a highly augmented interferon response which was largely absent in vaccine recipients. Increased interferon signaling likely contributed to the observed dramatic upregulation of cytotoxic genes in the peripheral T cells and innate-like lymphocytes in patients but not in immunized subjects.”
The study further notes: “Analysis of B and T cell receptor repertoires revealed that while the majority of clonal B and T cells in COVID-19 patients were effector cells, in vaccine recipients clonally expanded cells were primarily circulating memory cells.” What this means in plain English is that effector cells trigger an innate response that is quicker and more durable, whereas memory response requires an adaptive mode that is slower to respond. Natural immunity conveys much more innate immunity, while the vaccine mainly stimulates adaptive immunity.
The media scared people last year into thinking that if antibody levels wane, it means their immunity is weakening, as we are indeed seeing with the vaccines today. But as Nature wrote, “People who recover [even] from mild COVID-19 have bone-marrow cells that can churn out antibodies for decades.” Thus, aside from the robust T-cell memory that is likely lacking from most or all vaccinated individuals, prior infection creates memory B cells that “patrol the blood for reinfection, while bone marrow plasma cells (BMPCs) hide away in bones, trickling out antibodies for decades” as needed.
It’s therefore not surprising that early on in the pandemic, an in-vitro study in Singapore found the immunity against SARS-CoV-2 to last even 17 years later from SARS-1-infected patients who never even had COVID-19.
In a study of 1,359 previously infected health care workers in the Cleveland Clinic system, not a single one of them was reinfected 10 months into the pandemic, despite some of these individuals being around COVID-positive patients more than the regular population.
The study found that most recovered patients produced durable antibodies, memory B cells, and durable polyfunctional CD4 and CD8 T cells, which target multiple parts of the virus. “Taken together, these results suggest that broad and effective immunity may persist long-term in recovered COVID-19 patients,” concluded the authors. In other words, unlike with the vaccines, no boosters are required to assist natural immunity.
The authors conclude: “Natural infection induced expansion of larger CD8 T cell clones occupied distinct clusters, likely due to the recognition of a broader set of viral epitopes presented by the virus not seen in the mRNA vaccine” (emphasis added).
Conclusion: “In infection-naïve individuals, the second dose boosted the quantity but not quality of the T cell response, while in convalescents the second dose helped neither. Spike-specific T cells from convalescent vaccinees differed strikingly from those of infection-naïve vaccinees, with phenotypic features suggesting superior long-term persistence and ability to home to the respiratory tract including the nasopharynx.”
Given that we know the virus spreads through the nasopharynx, the fact that natural infection conveys much stronger mucosal immunity makes it clear that the previously infected are much safer to be around than infection-naive people with the vaccine. The fact that this study artfully couched the choices between vaccinated naive people and vaccinated recovered rather than just plain recovered doesn’t change the fact that it’s the prior infection, not the vaccine, conveying mucosal immunity. In fact, studies now show that infected vaccinated people contain just as much viral load in their nasopharynx as those unvaccinated, a clearly unmistakable conclusion from the virus spreading wildly in many areas with nearly every adult vaccinated.
Aside from more robust T cell and memory B cell immunity, which is more important than antibody levels, Israeli researchers found that antibodies wane slower among those with prior infection. “In vaccinated subjects, antibody titers decreased by up to 40% each subsequent month while in convalescents they decreased by less than 5% per month.”
Researchers conducted a review of 11 cohort studies with over 600,000 total recovered COVID patients who were followed up with over 10 months. The key finding? Unlike the vaccine, after about four to six months, they found “no study reporting an increase in the risk of reinfection over time.”
This is one of the only studies that analyzed the population‐level risk of reinfection based on whole genome sequencing in a subset of patients with supporting evidence of reinfection. Researchers estimate the risk at 0.66 per 10,000 person-weeks. Most importantly, the study found no evidence of waning of immunity for over seven months of the follow-up period. The few reinfections that did occur “were less severe than primary infections,” and “only one reinfection was severe, two were moderate, and none were critical or fatal.” Also, unlike many vaccinated breakthrough infections in recent weeks that have been very symptomatic, “most reinfections were diagnosed incidentally through random or routine testing, or through contact tracing.”
Several months ago, Israeli researchers studied 6.3 million Israelis and their COVID status and were able to confirm only one death in the entire country of someone who supposedly already had the virus, and he was over 80 years old. Contrast that to the torrent of hospitalizations and deaths we are seeing in those vaccinated more than five months ago in Israel.
Researchers tested blood samples from health care workers who never had the virus but got both Pfizer shots against blood samples from those health care workers who had a previous mild infection and a third group of patients who had a serious case of COVID. They found, “No neutralization escape could be feared concerning the two variants of concern [Alpha and Beta] in both populations” of those previously infected.
Many people are wondering: If they got only an asymptomatic infection, are they less protected against future infection than those who suffered infection with more evident symptoms? These researchers believe the opposite is true. “Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2–infected individuals are not characterized by weak antiviral immunity; on the contrary, they mount a highly functional virus-specific cellular immune response,” wrote the authors after studying T cell responses from both symptomatic and asymptomatic convalescent patients. If anything, they found that those with asymptomatic infection only had signs of non-inflammatory cytokines, which means that the body is primed to deal with the virus without producing that dangerous inflammatory response that is killing so many hospitalized with the virus.
The authors found that the T cells created from convalescent patients had “stem-cell like” qualities. After studying SARS-CoV-2-specific memory T cells in recovered patients who had the virus in varying degrees of severity, the authors concluded that long-term “SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell memory is successfully maintained regardless of the severity of COVID-19.”
The researchers note that far from suffering waning immunity, memory B cells in those with prior infection “express increasingly broad and potent antibodies that are resistant to mutations found in variants of concern.” They conclude that “memory antibodies selected over time by natural infection have greater potency and breadth than antibodies elicited by vaccination.” And again, this is even before getting into the innate cellular immunity which is exponentially greater in those with natural immunity.
Until now, we have established that natural immunity provides better adaptive B cell and innate T cell responses that last longer and work for the variants as compared to the vaccines. Moreover, those with prior infection are at greater risk for bad side effects from the vaccines, rendering the campaign to vaccinate the previously infected both unnecessary and dangerous. But the final question is: Do the vaccines possibly harm the superior T cell immunity built up from prior infection?
Immunologists from Mount Sinai in New York and Hospital La Paz in Madrid have raised serious concerns. In a shocking discovery after monitoring a group of vaccinated people both with and without prior infection, they found “in individuals with a pre-existing immunity against SARS-CoV-2, the second vaccine dose not only fail to boost humoral immunity but determines a contraction of the spike-specific T cell response.” They also note that other research has shown “the second vaccination dose appears to exert a detrimental effect in the overall magnitude of the spike-specific humoral response in COVID-19 recovered individuals.”