What does most research about whether there is natural immunity against SARS-CoV-2 have to say about this topic? While national, regional, and local governments focus on controlling the pandemic primarily through the use of testing, vaccination, emerging treatments, and various public health measures, the mainstream press rarely mentions the natural immunity associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. While hundreds of studies have been employed to better understand how vaccination can help, few studies are funded to scientifically study the natural response to COVID-19. However, numerous scientists and public health-focused researchers have looked into the phenomena. Most recently, Noah Kojima, MD a UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine grad now in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Jeffrey Klausner, MD, MPH a University of Southern California (USC) Clinical Professor of Population and Public health Sciences investigated the topic of COVID-19 natural immunity via a review of studies published in PubMed from the inception of the pandemic to September 28, 2021. They found a number of “well-conducted biological studies showing protective immunity after infection.”
Both Dr. Kojima and Dr. Klausner are researchers to the core. While Kojima attended UCLA Med School he took a gap year to become an NIH Fogarty Fellow in South Africa investigating “microbiome determinants of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and other STIs.” Klausner has taken on major public health program research and operational oversight serving the San Francisco Department of Public Health as Deputy Health Officer, Director of STD Prevention and Control Servers for over a decade. Klausner then traveled to South Africa to become Branch Chief for HIV and TB at the Centers for Disease Control in Pretoria and helped direct the South African PEPFAR program (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).
Important Questions about COVID-19 Natural Immunity
Recently, The Lancet published a review of COVID-19 natural immunity studies authored by the two Los Angeles-based physician-researchers. In the article, the authors showcased the different studies involved.
Some key findings:
- Natural immunity against COVID-19 is real: a myriad research involving wild type and the delta variant (B.1.617.2) finds that once an individual has been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the probability of reinfection decreases by 80.5 to 100%.
- The findings are based on a range of substantial, in some cases large studies conducted worldwide
- In one laboratory-based investigation involving 9119 people previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 the study found only 0.7% got sick again.
- A Cleveland Clinic study revealed that of those people not infected with SARS-CoV-2 they had a 4.3 per 100 potential to get infected while those who were infected had an incidence rate of 0 per 100 people. TrialSite reported on the same Cleveland Clinic study which that institution took down.
- In Austria a study found hospital frequency due to repeated SARS-CoV-2 infection was five per 14,840 (0.03%) with frequency of death due to repeated infection was one per 14,840.
What about vaccination after infection?
The authors state what could be considered blasphemous in select quadrants of society today declaring, “Some people who have recovered from COVID-19 might not benefit from COVID-19 vaccination.” This declaration is based on the June Cleveland Clinic study Necessity of COVID-19 vaccination in previously infected individuals | medRxiv that does have limitations in that it wasn’t peer-reviewed and it was later declared the results didn’t factor in the delta variant.
Is vaccination preferred?
Yes. The authors emphasize that it “is certainly much safer and preferred.”
But should natural immunity be factored into mandates and passports?
Yes. The authors reply, “policymakers should consider recovery from previous SARS-CoV-2 infection equal to immunity from vaccination for purposes related to entry to public events, businesses and the workplace, or travel requirements.”
Noah Kojima, MD UCLA resident
Jeffrey Klausner, MD, MPH USC, Clinical Professor of Population and Public health Sciences, Keck School of Medicine