Natural immunity appears to be robust in the short term, as does vaccine-induced immunity. Comparisons between these cases are of great scientific import. At this moment, tho, it is incorrect to argue the science is complete OR that natural immunity should influence public policy
An individualized approach to public health causes all kinds of issues. It’s logistically unfeasible at this scale & creates gaps. It also faciliates bad inferences, such as 1. People have reason to fear vaccines & 2. Perhaps it is preferable to become naturally immune
Note I am *not* saying, “ignore or deny the science on natural immunity.” Natural immunity & vaccine-induced immunity are both great. I am saying the incautious convo is causing more harm than benefit. Also: The differences between kinds of immunity are not “settled” science
The Israeli study has gotten a lot of attention. It appears to have several strengths & limitations. The design (retrospective observational) inevitably leads to confounding. That doesn’t mean the study is bad. It just mean it’s crucial to view the results as 1 piece in a puzzle
It just so turns out we do have results from other studies on this very same subject. One is a preprint from the UK. The other is a study published by the CDC. Both have their own strengths + limitations. And both have produced *different* results than the Israeli study.
Using a different study design, the Oxford preprint reports:
-No significant difference in infections btwn Group 1 (natural immunity) & Group 2 (2 doses of AstraZeneca)
-Greater protection for Group 3 (2 doses of Pfizer) over Group 1 (natural immunity)
So, different results. .
The CDC study found:
-“Natural immunity” group were 2.34 times *more* likely to experience re-infection than vaccinated people were to experience a breakthrough infection (vaccinated group=Pfizer, Moderna, & J&J)
So, again, different results.…
Serological studies have also shown less consistent responses to new variants from “vaccine-induced immunity. Other research has also shown greater adaptability in mrna-vaccinated people’s immune response to new variants. It’s possible that other studies have shown the opposite!
Complicating things even further is unknowns about viral spread! We need more info on differential antibody presence & reaction in nasal mucosa. We need more data on duration of immune response & the nature of viral particles expelled by vaccinated vs. “naturally immune” people.
So, what to take away from all of this?

It’s all very scientifically interesting, but it doesn’t have much import for Public Health decisions in the U.S. If we had a vaccine shortage, the convo might be different. But we have a different issue: vaccine resistance.
“Natural immunity” exemptions don’t make sense from a feasibility standpoint & introduce gaps in coverage. They also breed the kind of flawed inferences that encourage “COVID parties” & vaccine resistance. The whole convo will definitely not help w/ childhood vaccination.
If you want to have a conversation about the fascinating science behind immunity, go for it. But don't be incautious. And don't let your *scientific* conversation fuel bad inferences or lead to sloppy conclusions about Public Health guidance.
Finally, a pet peeve: The majority of Americans--including highly educated ones--do not have experience navigating scientific research. It is encoded for many, though, that HUGE SAMPLE SIZE=DEFINITIVE RESULTS. This can lead to misinterpretations.
Just citing the overall sample size obscures the fact that this type of study has multiple confounds, despite the researchers' best efforts. It also obscures the fact that the *infected* samples were much smaller. Doesn't mean the study is bad. But we need to be more cautious
I wrote more about how anti-vaxxers are specifically abusing the "natural immunity" research here…

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Mangy Jay

Mangy Jay Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @magi_jay

17 Sep
Have you heard murmurings about "natural immunity" on your facebook or in your communities? Here's my piece breaking down how this & other scientific topics are being manipulated by anti-vaxxers, as well as how you can debunk their claims.
"Natural immunity as *preferable* to vaccine immunity is a dangerous misuse of scientific information that could have real consequences for childhood vaccination. If parents perceive their children's risk as low, then hear about natural immunity, this could affect their choices.
This kind of scientific misinfo can be hard to combat b/c we feel like we have to argue w/ the science itself. You don't have to argue w/ the science. The preprint could be garbage or or it could be great. All you have to do is dispute the bad inferences…
Read 5 tweets
16 Sep
Since many people are telling me they've heard about "natural immunity" in anti-vax or vaccine-hesitant convos, here is the full excerpt I wrote on the misrepresentations of this science:… Image
Here's something to note. The study on natural immunity vs. vaccine immunity is a pre-print. It hasn't been peer-reviewed. Peer review might find the study to be too flawed to print, or they might think the study is genius. But the merits of the study aren't what's at issue here.
The study could be great (or not) & it could be the case that natural immunity is stronger than vaccine-induced immunity (or not), but none of this changes the flawed inference that the path to acquiring natural immunity is *preferable* to acquiring vaccine-induced immunity.
Read 5 tweets
16 Sep
In my new piece for @johnastoehr, I write about the most subtle & pernicious form of anti-vaxx propaganda: the manipulation of scientific information & the appropriation of scientific authority…
Case #1: Anti-vaxxers have latched onto a preprint wherein the authors report results suggesting "natural immunity" is more robust than vaccine-induced immunity. Anti-vaxxers are now arguing this scientific evidence entails it is *preferable* to become naturally immune
Conservatives have reported on "natural immunity" without stipulating all of the risks of contracting COVID. They are using natural immunity to argue against mandates, as well as to claim Democrats are the real enemies of science. Searches for "natural immunity" have sky-rocketed
Read 18 tweets
15 Sep
I'm not going to comment on the nicotine taxes bc that's a complicated convo about which I have conflicting views. That said, re: the twitter commentary (not the policy), it always saddens me when liberal &/or progressive people take a stigmatizing or judgmental view of addiction
Nicotine addiction is legitimately very hard to kick. It requires major rewiring of the brain. Addiction also correlates w/ mental health and socioeconomic status. Many smokers self-medicate. The tools we have to fight nicotine addiction are hard to access for many.
Now, you can certainly be mad if someone chooses to exercise their addiction in a way that imports personal cost to you: littering; smoking in public, etc. But that doesn't mean you have to shame the addiction overall, ignore the forces that drive it, or be glib about recovery
Read 5 tweets
15 Sep
This single clause in the Harper's Letter captures the attitude that drives so much political commentary. Because authoritarianism is expected of the GOP, it is no longer of empirical interest. It doesn't grab one's attention. This dangerously entrenches the behavior as "normal"
Think about how much as changed in just the past few years. In 2015, Trump's demagogic rhetoric was viewed as so abnormal, it received a full write-up in The NY Times. The press was aflame when it seemed he might not accept the results of the 2016 election…
Now, Larry Elder cited voter fraud before the California recall election even happened and we barely react. The Senate GOP is attempting to "audit" the 2020 results in PA by accessing every voter's info & we're like, "typical."
Read 6 tweets
15 Sep
Per the NYT's latest count:
64% voted "No" (for Newsom)
36% voted "Yes" (for recall)
On Q2, "Who should replace Newsom?," many left their ballots blank.
For the filled-in ballots, Elder received 47% against 45 other candidates.
I would not call that a resounding victory
So, there's no real evidence for the claim that Elder did well. He did not do well. He did terribly. That aside, I'm a bit concerned that none of these headlines mention the fact that Elder tried to undermine the results of the election before it had even occurred.
It used to be, back in 2016 and before, that a person trying to undermine the results of the democratic process was treated as a huge deal. Now, Republicans have done it so many times that we think it is normal? This is rather disturbing.…
Read 4 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!