We’ve been hearing a lot about herd immunity lately, but what is it? Herd immunity occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely. As a result, the entire community is protected, even those who are not themselves immune. This is usually achieved through vaccination, but it can also occur through natural immunity.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and chief medical expert for the Biden administration, says herd immunity cannot be achieved until 70% to 85% of the population is vaccinated. Dr. Marty Makary, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, says we’ll reach herd immunity much sooner; in fact, he says, we’re almost there already.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Makary says the reason we will get there much sooner is Dr. Fauci is not accounting for natural immunity. Natural immunity occurs when people become infected and get well. Their bodies develop antibodies that give them natural immunity.
The significance of this can be seen in California. Data from the California Department of Public Health released earlier this month show that while only 8.7% of the state’s population has ever tested positive for Covid-19, at least 38.5% have antibodies against Covid-19. This means many people who never got tested actually were infected and have now acquired natural immunity. These numbers were from studies between January 30 and February 20, so the actual numbers will be much higher today. Makary estimates at least half of Californians have natural immunity today.
Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles recently reported that cases in his city are down 95% and the positivity rate is only 1.7%. This vast improvement signifies the importance of natural immunity in lowering the spread of the virus. Garcetti said, “Between half and two-thirds of our population has antibodies in it now,” due to Covid exposure or vaccination.
Dr. Fauci certainly understands the importance of natural immunity. So does Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, who has joined Fauci in playing down natural immunity. In a February 17 interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), she suggested that up to 20% of the population might have had Covid-19. Yet a study of antibody prevalence published soon after noted that 14% of New Yorkers had antibodies in September, even before the states’ fall and winter surges. Using the recent California data, it appears Dr. Walensky underestimated the prevalence of natural immunity by half.
Some experts claim they don’t talk about natural immunity because we shouldn’t trust it to protect us from the virus. But a recent Public Health England study found that less than 1% of 6,614 healthcare workers who had Covid-19 developed a reinfection within five months – even though many of them work directly with Covid patients.
Many experts believe that natural immunity is powerful. “Natural immunity after Covid-19 infection is likely lifelong, extrapolating from data on other coronaviruses that cause severe illness, SARS and MERS,” says Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician and professor at the University of California.
Why would these two scientists underestimate the significance of natural immunity?
It has become quite clear that the Biden administration wants to prolong the pandemic as long as possible, at least in the minds of Americans, for political reasons. (see CDC Credibility Gone) President Biden has already told the nation he hopes Americans will be able to have “limited gatherings” by the Fourth of July. Is this because his two most prominent medical advisors have downplayed the importance of natural immunity or because they have been told to maintain a more pessimistic outlook? What do you believe?