Recently Dr. Anthony Fauci was on CNN when Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked him about a study TrialSite covered out of Israel that found natural immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infection was essentially better than the immunity associated with the COVID-19 vaccines. Gupta asked the nation’s top doctor—a veritable treasure trove of knowledge on all things COVID-19—what he thought about this topic, given Gupta gets lots of calls asking him about this topic. Fauci, in response, sort of fumbled, paused and declared, “You know, that’s a really good point, Sanjay. I don’t have a really firm answer for you on that. That’s something that we’re going to have to discuss regarding the durability of the response.”

Dr. Fauci knows more, of course, then he lets on. He, or more likely his subordinates, are undoubtedly picking apart these studies and raising the specter of durability, that is, how “durable” or long-lasting an immune response is, a crucial characteristic of highly effective vaccines as well as natural immune response. 

Now studies are indicating that the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine has some challenges on the durable front—at least when it comes to the delta variant as studies indicate the vaccine effectivity wanes by month four or five.  The Moderna mRNA vaccine fares better, according to a Mayo Clinic study. That’s why the nation of Israel embarked on a massive booster campaign and that’s why Dr. Fauci is in constant discussions with Israel—because the durability of the Pfizer vaccine, currently both under EUA and approved as Comirnaty—is in question.

Now the good doctor challenges the durability of natural immunity but of concern is the way this question caught not only the top expert off guard but also his lack of knowledge on the current study literature.  It indicates a bias toward vaccination-based eradication with no real intellectual interest in natural immunity. This is an important topic given how many people have already been infected with SARS-CoV-2. We sincerely hope here at TrialSite that Dr. Fauci and the NIH team start investigating in more detail the characteristics of natural immunity.

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