AUG 31, 2021 6:50 PM PDT

People Who Have Had SARS-CoV-2 Infection Have Longer-Lasting Immunity Than Those Who Were Vaccinated Only

WRITTEN BY: Alexandria Bass

Consider yourself among the luckiest if you made a full recovery from infection with SARS-CoV-2, especially if you were also vaccinated afterward. Data from an Israeli observational study show natural immunity provides more robust and longer-lasting immunity to ward off new strains of COVID-19.

With Israel having one of the highest vaccination rates, this study is so far the largest real-world observational study to compare natural to vaccine-induced immunity. Data came from the Maccabi Healthcare Services database with records on 2.5 million Israelis. People who were vaccinated in January and February but had never been infected with SARS-CoV-2 were found to be 6 to 13 times more susceptible to infection by June, July, and August than the unvaccinated who'd had an infection. Fortunately, in this analysis, overall infection rates in the vaccinated group and re-infection rates in the previously infected group were low – 238 infections with SARS-CoV-2 out of 16,000 people in the vaccinated group compared to 19 re-infections out of around 16,000 people in the unvaccinated group that had already had an infection.

Comparing previously infected people who remained unvaccinated with previously infected people who received one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the unvaccinated group was two times more likely to be reinfected.

Limitations of this study include its retrospective analysis that doesn't allow for controlling of retesting. For instance, previously infected people may not have gotten retested if their symptoms were mild and they thought they were immune, which could change the re-infection rate found in the study.

Another COVID-19 researcher, Michel Nussenzweig at Rockefeller University, has data showing that people who have naturally-acquired immunity from COVID-19 produce increasing numbers and types of COVID antibodies for up to one year after infection, while vaccine-induced immunity results in a less potent and less broad antibody response several months after the second dose of vaccine.

These findings raise new questions concerning recent vaccine mandates, such as should SARS-CoV-2 survivors be required to be vaccinated and is more than one dose of vaccine necessary in this group of people?

Although rare, re-infection with SARS-CoV-2 can be severe. One thing is certain: Infection prevention is the best strategy, especially considering the potential for chronic complications after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Known as long COVID, or post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, symptoms last for four or more weeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection and include shortness of breath, fatigue, poor endurance, cognitive impairment, cough, chest pain, headache, heart palpitations, muscle and joint aches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, insomnia, fever, lightheadedness, mood changes, rash, loss of taste and smell, and irregular menstrual cycles. Development of chronic autoimmune conditions that cause organ damage can also occur after the original infection has cleared.

Sources: Science, CDC
 

About the Author
  • Alexandria (Alex) is a freelance science writer with a passion for educating the public on health issues. Her other professional experience includes working as a speech-language pathologist in health care, a research assistant in a food science laboratory, and an English teaching assistant in Spain. In her spare time, Alex enjoys cycling, lap swimming, jogging, and reading.
You May Also Like
SEP 30, 2021
Microbiology
Malaria Parasite Seems to be Evolving to Evade Diagnostic Tests
SEP 30, 2021
Malaria Parasite Seems to be Evolving to Evade Diagnostic Tests
When health officials are trying to control a disease outbreak, diagnostic tests can be a crucial tool that provides inf ...
OCT 03, 2021
Coronavirus
Merck's COVID-19 Drug Halves Risk of Death in Mild & Moderate Cases
OCT 03, 2021
Merck's COVID-19 Drug Halves Risk of Death in Mild & Moderate Cases
While Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIAID is already stressing that people should still get vaccinated to help reduce COVID-19 in ...
OCT 12, 2021
Immunology
Major Landmark in a 100-Year Search for a Malaria Vaccine
OCT 12, 2021
Major Landmark in a 100-Year Search for a Malaria Vaccine
In one of the greatest global health milestones of our time, the World Health Organization has approved the widespread d ...
OCT 13, 2021
Microbiology
How Bacteria Can Work as a Kind of Antibiotic Therapy
OCT 13, 2021
How Bacteria Can Work as a Kind of Antibiotic Therapy
When we get an infection, we can take antibiotics to get rid of it. But sometimes the situation becomes more complicated ...
OCT 15, 2021
Health & Medicine
Anti-seizure properties found in the Cannabinoid CBGA
OCT 15, 2021
Anti-seizure properties found in the Cannabinoid CBGA
A growing body of research suggests cannabis’s effectiveness in minimizing seizure activity, but a recent study hi ...
OCT 19, 2021
Cardiology
Can Optimism Save Lives?
OCT 19, 2021
Can Optimism Save Lives?
Throughout history, optimism has been viewed as a cornerstone of resilience. In the words of Helen Keller, optimism is t ...
Loading Comments...