Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) posted a Twitter thread asserting that world who have survived a covid-19 infection were unlikely to it is in reinfected and also have much better immunity versus variants 보다 those who have been vaccinated versus — but not infected by — SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid.

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This story also ran top top PolitiFact. It can be republished because that free.

The society media communication represented his recent salvo in the ongoing controversy over whether organic immunity is indistinguishable or even better than vaccination.

While the science on the topic is quiet evolving, a look at the proof behind Paul’s series of tweets appeared in order. After ~ all, though nearly 65% of Americans have actually received at least one dose of a covid vaccine, some people who have recovered native covid might not feel a require to acquire shot. Paul, who was the an initial senator to be diagnosed with the virus, is among them. This is a depths look in ~ what Paul said on Twitter, the researches he cited and also how researchers defined his comments.

Breaking down the Twitter Thread

In his very first tweet, Paul referenced a current Cleveland Clinic study finding that amongst subjects that were unvaccinated but had currently had covid-19, there to be no re-infections in a five-month observation period: “Great news! Cleveland clinic study of 52,238 employees mirrors unvaccinated human being who have had COVID 19 have actually no difference in re-infection price than world who had actually COVID 19 and who take it the vaccine.”

In subsequent tweets, the councilor said: “The immune solution to natural infection is extremely likely to administer protective immune even against the SARS-CoV-2 variants. … Thus, recovered COVID-19 patient are most likely to much better defend against the variants 보다 persons who have actually not been infected but have to be immunized with spike-containing vaccines only.” All 3 vaccines authorized because that emergency use in the U.S. (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) contain hereditary instructions that tell our cells just how to make a spike protein linked with the coronavirus. The visibility of the spike protein then causes our bodies to do antibodies to protect versus covid.

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At the finish of his last tweet, rand then linked to a 2nd study led by scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research facility in Seattle to support his assertions.

Digesting the clinical Papers

Paul referenced two scientific documents in his tweet subject — both the which space preprints, an interpretation they have not however been released in clinical journals or been peer-reviewed.

One was a research from the Cleveland Clinic complying with four category of health treatment workers: unvaccinated yet previously infected; unvaccinated but not previously infected; vaccinated and also previously infected; and also vaccinated but not previously infected. The workers were adhered to for five months.

The researchers uncovered that no one who was unvaccinated but had formerly been infected through covid ended up being infected again during the five-month study period. Epidemic were virtually zero amongst those that were vaccinated, if there was a steady boost in infections amongst those who were unvaccinated and also previously uninfected.

When asked whether he thought Paul’s tweet had understood his study results correctly, the study’s lead author, Dr. Nabin Shrestha, an contagious diseases specialist at Cleveland Clinic, stated “it was an accurate interpretation that the study’s findings.”

However, Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the university of California-San Francisco, wrote in an email that that would include one caveat to the wording that Paul’s tweet: “Note that in his tweet councilor Paul appears to imply that the denominator of previously infected health treatment workers at the Cleveland Clinic was 52,238 — the was the total number in the totality study. There were 1,359 the were formerly infected and never vaccinated, and there were no reinfections provided over a mean follow up of 143 days. So, the tweet chin is precise if read literally but the denominator is really 1,359.”

As for the other study Paul mentioned, researchers analyzed covid-19 immune in those who had been infected v the covid virus and those who hadn’t and also found the infection caused a selection of immune cells and also immunity lasted at the very least eight months.

In his last two tweets in the thread, Paul quotes straight from the study’s “discussion” section: “The immune an answer to natural infection is highly likely to carry out protective immunity even versus the SARS-CoV-2 variants. … Thus, recovered COVID-19 patients are most likely to much better defend against the variants 보다 persons who have not been infected but have to be immunized v spike-containing vaccines only.”

The lead examine author, Kristen Cohen, a senior staff scientist in the Vaccine and Infectious condition Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research facility in Seattle, identified that Paul’s tweet was a straight quote from the study. Still, she said, in her view, the quote was taken out of context and presented to fit Paul’s target — however does not accurately reflect the in its entirety take-home article from the study’s findings.

That’s because, she said, Paul to be quoting from the discussion section that the paper. The conversation is the final section the a scientific paper, and Cohen said its purpose here was to project what the study’s findings might imply for a more comprehensive scientific significance.

“We composed that recovering covid patients space “likely” to much better defend versus variants 보다 those who have just to be immunized, however it’s no saying they do,” stated Cohen. “It’s no saying they have been well-known to. The making a theory or basically saying this can be the case.”

In fact, Cohen’s study did not include any kind of subjects who had been vaccinated. The researchers were just reasoning in the sentence Paul quoted that, based on the data showing the immune system’s wide natural response, those who recover from covid-19 and then obtain a vaccine may be much better protected against covid variants 보다 those who had actually only vaccine-induced immunity.

“We did not intend come argue the infected human being do not require to gain vaccinated or that their immune responses are superior,” Cohen created in an email.

However, Cohen well-known the sentence to be confusing once taken the end of context and said she will eliminate it from the record when it gets submitted because that publication.

Cohen pointed us to another Fred Hutchinson-led examine with i beg your pardon she to be involved. The did display that human being who previously had actually covid-19 benefited from also getting vaccinated, due to the fact that there to be a far-reaching boost in immune response, especially against variants.

The typical Wisdom on organic Immunity

So, what’s known from this two researches is that surviving a covid infection confers a significant amount that immunity versus the virus. Various other studies additionally support this assertion.

“Existing literary works does show natural immunity offers protection against COVID-19,” claimed Shane Crotty, a professor at the center for Infectious condition and Vaccine research at the La Jolla Institute because that Immunology who has actually published plenty of peer-reviewed researches on herbal immunity versus covid-19. He claimed such immunity specifically protects against hospitalizations and severe illness.

In Crotty’s own recent study, the biggest yet to measure up the molecules and cells affiliated in immune protection, his team uncovered that herbal immunity against covid lasted at the very least eight months. Based upon projections, it could last up to a couple of years.

While the is great news, Crotty said, there room three point out of caution.

First, though organic immunity shows up to be an extremely effective versus the current dominant U.S. Variant (known together alpha), it additionally appears weaker than vaccine immunity against some of the variants circulating, such together the delta variant, first detected in India. That method if those variants eventually end up being dominant in the U.S., civilization relying on natural immunity would be less safeguarded than those who are vaccinated.

Second, there is a absence of data around whether natural immunity prevents asymptomatic transmission and infection. Several various other studies, though, present vaccines do.

Third, Crotty said his researches have displayed that level of natural immunity deserve to vary extensively in individuals. His team even discovered a hundredfold difference in the number of immune cells amongst people.

“If girlfriend thought about the immune device as a basketball game and you thought around that as a team scoring 1 point, and another team scoring 100 points, that’s a big difference,” stated Crotty. “We’re not so confident that civilization at the low finish of immune levels would be together protected against covid-19.”

But those who receive a vaccine shot have actually a much much more consistent number of immune cells, since everyone obtain the very same dose amount, stated Crotty.

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With all the in mind, the Centers for condition Control and also Prevention recommends the those that previously had actually covid-19 should get vaccinated and receive both doses of a vaccine, whether it’s the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious condition expert, reiterated this message during a White home covid-19 briefing critical month.