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Finley: Give natural immunity more respect


From the beginning, our effectiveness in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic has been hampered by a stubborn reluctance to pause and consider whether policies and practices are actually working.

Once science is declared and a path chosen, there's little room for adjusting course. All that matters is control and conformity.

We've hit that point again with vaccines. 

There's no question that mass vaccinations are the surest way out of this COVID horror house. If everyone who can took the vaccine, this pandemic would be on its way to history.

But it shouldn't be heresy to acknowledge that everyone may not need to get the shot.

Natural immunity has never received the respect it deserves as a weapon against COVID. Now a strong scientific case is building that if you've had the virus, you may not need the vaccine.

More: Jacques: If you've had COVID, but not shot, should you count?

Scientists in Israel finally gave natural immunity the attention it deserves, comparing those who caught the virus sometime during the pandemic with those who have taken two shots of a vaccine.

While both groups were extremely unlikely to contract COVID, those who were vaccinated had a six-fold greater chance of getting the virus than their unvaccinated peers who'd already been infected.

The study also concluded natural immunity provides longer lasting protection, with high levels of antibodies still present in the blood for a year or longer.

The Israeli research has been supported by other studies. including one from the Centers for Infectious Diseases that found the reinfection rate for those who've had COVID to be less than 1%, similar to the infection rate of those who've been vaccinated.

This isn't an argument against getting vaccinated. The Israeli scientists also found those who've had COVID and received two shots of the vaccine are virtually iron-clad against the virus and its variants.

But it is a case for personal choice, when that choice presents no risk to the public.

Why should employers — or worse, the government — force vaccines on those who don't need them?

People have a lot of reasons for not wanting to be vaccinated, and not all of them can be dismissed as rooted in ignorance or political posturing.

I've now had three shots of the Moderna vaccine, and will continue to take them as long as there's the slightest chance I might get COVID.

But others who have had the disease, suffered through it and survived, should be respected if they trust their natural immunity and choose to forego the vaccine. There's no scientific evidence that they are a greater risk of getting or spreading the virus than those who have taken the shots.

They should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated, and should not be shunned from society or forced out of their classrooms or jobs because of their choice.

If science is doing the talking, as our policymakers profess, then COVID survivors should be allowed to present evidence they've had the virus and get the same access to their civil liberties as those with a vaccination card.

Natural immunity isn't hocus pocus — it's among the oldest of scientific truths. Now that research has attested to the strength of natural immunity in battling COVID, policies should follow the science.

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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