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Speaking of science: Is immunity from a viral infection different from immunity from vaccination? | Lifestyle

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Hannah Margolis

Most of this week’s news is focused on Novak Djokovic Trying to stay in Melbourne for the Australian Open. At the heart of the controversy is the debate over what constitutes sufficient immunity to Covid-19 infection. Djokovic has not been vaccinated against Covid-19, but has been infected within the last 6 months and should theoretically immunize against future illnesses.

The argument that previous infections with Covid-19 should be considered as a substitute for evidence of vaccination has been heated recently as Biden’s vaccination obligations have been challenged in many courts. Previous Covid-19 infections provided excellent immunity to vaccination, and therefore received comments from many who argued that vaccination obligations were more politically motivated than scientific facts. So what do we know about how the level and duration of immunity from vaccination and viral infections are compared? There are some important things to know.

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Data on whether viral infections or vaccination provide better immunity are incredibly inconsistent.

If you see the argument that vaccination provides good immunity to viral infections and vice versa, both may be based on credible scientific information. Numerous studies comparing the potential for infection, serious illness, and hospitalization of vaccinated and previously infected individuals over the past 6 months have yielded strikingly contradictory results. rice field. for example, U.S. studies In nine states from January to September 2021, previously infected individuals were found to be 5.5 times more likely to be hospitalized with new Covid-19 cases than fully vaccinated individuals. rice field. Israeli study From August 2021, it was found that fully vaccinated individuals were 13 times more likely to be re-infected than previously infected individuals in early 2021. However, both of these studies are flawed. Israeli studies have not been able to explain survivorship bias. Individuals who die from the first Covid-19 infection are clearly unable to reinfect, and the number of reinfections in the previously infected group is clearly visible. Also, US studies cannot draw conclusions about the actual possibility of infection, only serious illnesses.

Both studies were conducted when the delta mutant accounted for the majority of Covid-19 cases, but there is also intense debate about how virus-vaccinated immunity can tolerate the new mutant. The COVID-19 vaccine It works by challenging the immune system with the peaplomer of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This means that the vaccine cannot give Covid-19 like the actual SARS-CoV-2 virus, but it also means that the vaccine cannot train the body to recognize the rest of the virus surface. increase.given that Virus mutant If the peplomer changes, the immune system of the vaccinated individual should have a harder time detecting viral variants than the previously infected individual. This is because individuals who received the Covid-19 vaccine after becoming ill with Covid-19 “Super immunity” Against viral variants Another study Antibodies from vaccinated individuals were found to actually have broader awareness of the SARS-CoV-2 peplomer than previously infected individuals. In addition, vaccination appears to provide standard levels of immunity, while natural infections appear to be more mixed bags. 1/3 of an individual People who have recovered from a Covid-19 infection show no signs of immunity to additional infections.

It is incredibly clear that repeated training of the immune system through vaccination and infection is the main boost to your immunity.

The strength and duration of the immune response to previously infected and vaccinated individuals to Covid-19 is still under intense debate, but it is clear. Repeated training Strengthening the immune system against SARS-CoV-2 is the best way to obtain a strong immune response against future infections. This makes sense in essence. Without retraining, the immune system weakens in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 over time, just as marathon runners lose performance in future races after a year’s rest. The same applies to your immune system’s ability to fight other illnesses.that’s why Many common pediatric vaccinesMeasles-mumps-rubella (MMR), tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap), hepatitis, pneumonia, etc. require regular booster immunity throughout life.

I’ve known for months that repeated challenges to the immune system provide excellent protection against Covid-19 (remember the “superimmunity” from Covid-19 infection and subsequent vaccination). .. Study from Japan last week Coordinating the time between challenges to the immune system has been found to increase protection even against new Omicron variants, and New preprint Booster doses of the Moderna mRNA vaccine have been reported to increase antibody levels and improve the immune system’s ability to neutralize omicrons. father, Small study Boosters suggest that it may lead to even higher levels of immunity than those found in Covid-19 infections and subsequent vaccinated hyperimmune individuals.

How to be unaffected by Covid-19 has morally significant consequences.

There is still debate as to whether vaccination or viral infection provides different protection against future Covid-19 infections, but the comparison of relative risks is more complex and not only for your health but also for the people around you. It is just as important to your health. For one thing, gaining immunity through a viral infection carries the risk of serious complications with Covid-19, including long Covid. More than half It lasts for infected individuals and for at least 6 months after infection. Long Covid complications include: Lung scarring (5%), decreased vital capacity (10%), heart inflammation (1%), and severe malaise (58%).In contrast, the risk of heart inflammation from vaccination 0.0014% The vaccine is not long enough to stay in the body Long-term side effects..

Apart from the personal risk of gaining immunity from a Covid-19 infection, choosing to get infected also poses a risk to those around you (vaccines). Still reduces virus infection, Even in the case of variants). Even youth in your 40s 10 times more likely Adults in their twenties are more likely to die of Covid-19, and the risk continues to increase dramatically with age.In particular, all people infected with the highly infectious Omicron variant Average 3-5 It is perfectly reasonable to worry that as more people get sick, the government (including Australia) may encourage people to be exempted from being infected intentionally to avoid vaccination. is. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that we have seen the immune system eventually weaken, and the best way to boost immunity is to repeatedly challenge the immune system. This means that individuals who choose to acquire immunity through a viral infection must do so repeatedly each time they endanger not only their own health but also the health of those around them.And, of course, each infection gives the opportunity to emerge new, more dangerous and infectious variants (details). here.. )

The idea that “we are all exposed now-it’s all over” is clearly very inaccurate. Obtaining immunity is not one and the deal made. And the way each of us chooses to be immune affects us all.

Hannah Margolis is an NSF GRFP Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds a degree in biochemistry from Dartmouth College. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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