• While natural immunity is stronger than vaccine-induced immunity, proving natural immunity is difficult because fewer than one-fourth of infections are documented and antibodies testing is hit-or-miss
  • Vaccine mandates would affect more people with natural immunity (the stronger immunity) than those without any immunity, which would not justify the ostensible public-health case for such mandates
  • If the vaccines are effective as we know them to be, there’s no need to deprive other people of their livelihoods for not being vaccinated, especially given the better-than-even odds that their immunity is better

My previous research brief, “DHHS Data Show Strength of Natural Immunity in North Carolina,” showed that North Carolinians with natural immunity are much less likely to contract Covid than even vaccinated individuals. Using data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), I was able to calculate two different infection rates:

  • The reinfection rate (a measure of the strength of natural immunity) was 0.8% — 10,812 reinfections out of 1,346,316 cases
  • The post-vaccination infection rate (a measure of the strength of vaccine-induced immunity) was 1.3% — 63,582 post-vaccination infections by the 4,916,059 people vaccinated

I also pointed out that those numbers don’t account for the known problem of PCR-based false positives, the estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that there are over four times as many actual infections as there are known cases, and also that DHHS defines away post-vaccination cases that occurred either within two weeks of vaccination or after the first injection. From those factors I was able to state that:

  • The reinfection rate was therefore likely much lower than 0.8% while the post-vaccination infection rate was likely much greater than 1.3%.

These findings are entirely consistent with the large, growing body of research finding that post-infection natural immunity to Covid-19 is stronger than vaccine-induced immunity. They indicate a large difference in susceptibility to subsequent infection among vaccinated individuals and previously infected individuals in North Carolina (overall, of course, susceptibility to subsequent infection among either population is very low).

Who are these North Carolinians with this stronger immunity to Covid? Per CDC estimates, the state can officially identify fewer than one-fourth of them — only one for every 4.2 people with natural immunity.

Yet hospitals are firing them, other large employers are firing them, restaurants are banning them, entertainment venues are blocking them, influential commentators are calling for them to be denied government benefits and even lifesaving health services, the Cooper administration is actively encouraging this mistreatment, and the Biden administration is seeking ways to deepen it.

These hideous acts are based in labeling them as “the unvaccinated” and pretending — against science, against accumulated wisdom through the ages, if not against humanity — that they all present the same, unbearable risk to “the vaccinated.”

Who has natural immunity? Why it’s hard to tell

While we realize many people have this greater immunity, it is extremely difficult to determine who they are. Unlike with people who are vaccinated, there aren’t official records of everyone who has encountered SARS-CoV-2 and fought off a Covid-19 infection. There will be records of those who have tested positive, yes, but as the CDC acknowledges, only about “1 in 4.2 COVID–19 infections were reported.”

Based on that rate of underreporting, how many people in North Carolina must have natural immunity from Covid-19? According to DHHS case numbers and using the CDC multiplier (4.2) to estimate actual infections, divided by the state population, that proportion would be 55.4%. Importantly, it would mean over half of North Carolinians have natural immunity from Covid. Looking at adult North Carolinians, the ones most affected by vaccine mandates, it means that 59.5% have natural immunity.

What about testing for antibodies? Antibodies testing could detect some proportion of people with natural immunity, but antibodies wane over time (whether from prior infection or from vaccination). That’s a problem for testing for antibodies only; it doesn’t affect immunity from prior infection or vaccines. As Monica Gandhi, infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, has explained, waning antibodies is natural and no cause for alarm, because of memory B cells and T cells.

“Neutralizing antibodies … will necessarily wane over time since we cannot keep antibodies from every infection and vaccine we have ever seen in the bloodstream (or our blood would be thick as paste!),” Gandhi wrote. “Memory B cells, once generated by either natural infection or vaccination, should be long-lasting,” and “memory B cells will actually produce antibodies adapted against the COVID variants if they see a variant in the future.” Also, “While B cells are like the memory banks to produce antibodies when needed (helped by T cells), T cells will specifically amplify in response to a piece of the virus and help recruit cells to attack the pathogen directly.”

With respect to proving natural immunity, then, the problem is that fewer than one-fourth of infections are documented and antibodies testing is hit-or-miss.

Covid vaccine mandates do more harm than good

We have enough information to believe that vaccine mandates to work, travel, shop, dine out, enjoy a concert, and so forth would affect more people with natural immunity than those without immunity. If over half of people already have natural immunity, then over half the people penalized for not being vaccinated likely have stronger immunity than provided by the vaccines.

Such an outcome would not justify the ostensible public-health case for such mandates.

Instead, the right and proper policy would be to lift or avoid vaccination mandates. To the fearful, such an idea might seem unthinkable, but they would be overestimating actual risks.

First, what we call “the unvaccinated” is a small and dwindling minority. Already 70% percent of adults in North Carolina are partially vaccinated, and nearly two-thirds (65%) are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, well over half of the remaining 30% would have the stronger, more robust natural immunity. So basically we would be worrying about 12.2% of adults.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but those 12.2% of adults without natural or vaccine-based immunity should not worry anyone with natural or vaccine-based immunity.

Less than one-eighth of adult North Carolinians with no immunity to Covid does not mean, however, that same proportion is walking around this very moment with the disease. As shown by the most recent NC Threat-Free Index, the proportion of North Carolinians currently posing no threat of passing along Covid-19 was about 99.5%. That implies that only about five people in 1,000 were possibly infected.

Dangers of fomenting hysteria and tyranny

The lessons to draw here are these: We must not continue to pump those who are vaccinated against Covid-19 with hysteria that their vaccinations are somehow ineffective if there’s someone unvaccinated in the room, on the job, at the concert, on the plane. If the vaccines are effective as we know them to be, there’s no need to deprive other people of their livelihoods for not being vaccinated, especially given the better-than-even odds that their immunity is better than yours.

Also: an argument that the vaccinations don’t work cannot simultaneously be an argument for mandating them on people or else take away their rights to go about their lives as fellow citizens.

Covid vaccine mandates must end now and be flung to the waste heap of antiscientific tyrannies, such as eugenics, ice-pick lobotomies, anti-miscegenation laws, and leeching.