Workers at Michigan-based Spectrum Health can avoid the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate if they can prove they have natural immunity to the virus.
“While we still recommend vaccination for people with prior COVID-19 infection, according to this new research, there is increasing evidence that natural infection affords protection from COVID-19 reinfection and severe symptoms for a period of time,” Spectrum said in a statement, according to local media. “Current studies are not clear on how long natural immunity protects from reinfection.”
Under the hospital policy, workers will have to submit to an antibody test to prove they’re immune.
Natural immunity, meaning that a person has contracted COVID-19 and recovered, is rarely discussed in national conversations about vaccines, although some studies have shown that individuals who were previously infected have displayed significant resistance to the virus.
Researchers in Israel found that previous infection has provided better protection to individuals against the Delta variant than the Pfizer mRNA vaccine.
“This analysis demonstrated that natural immunity affords longer-lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease, and hospitalization due to the Delta variant,” researchers from Maccabi Healthcare and Tel Aviv University said.
On Sept. 11, Biden administration COVID-19 advisor Anthony Fauci said that another, new study from Israel regarding natural immunity has triggered discussion among experts.
“I don’t have a really firm answer for you on that,” Fauci responded to a question about whether individuals who were previously infected should get the vaccine.
“That’s something that we’re going to have to discuss regarding the durability of the response. The one thing that paper from Israel didn’t tell you is whether or not—as high as the protection is with natural infection—what’s the durability compared to the durability of a vaccine?” Fauci asked rhetorically. “So it is conceivable that you got infected, you’re protected, but you may not be protected for an indefinite period of time,” he added.
A landmark study from Emory University and published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine in July revealed that individuals who have natural immunity display long and robust protection against COVID-19, the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“We saw that antibody responses, especially IgG antibodies, were not only durable in the vast majority of patients but decayed at a slower rate than previously estimated, which suggests that patients are generating longer-lived plasma cells that can neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein,” Rafi Ahmed, director at Emory Vaccine Center and lead author, told Emory News Center on July 22.