In August 2021, Science Magazine, a peer-reviewed academic publication published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, featured ground-breaking findings from Israel that shook the public health establishment.
The study, which utilized a database of approximately 2.5 million Israelis and was led by Tal Patalon, director of the KSM Research and Innovation Center at Maccabi Healthcare Services, and Sivan Gazit, found that previous infection with Covid-19 conferred significantly stronger and longer-lasting protection than vaccines against the Delta variant.
“The newly released data show people who once had a SARS-CoV-2 infection were much less likely than never-infected, vaccinated people to get Delta, develop symptoms from it, or become hospitalized with serious COVID-19,” Science staff writer Meredith Wadman noted.
In June, July, and the first half of August, never-infected individuals who were vaccinated in January and February were six to thirteen times more likely to get sick than unvaccinated individuals who had previously been exposed to Covid.
“It’s a textbook example of how natural immunity is really better than vaccination,” Charlotte Thålin, a physician and immunology researcher at Danderyd Hospital and the Karolinska Institute, told Science.
The Death of Vaccine Mandates?
The timing of these findings was important.
During the summer of 2021, several countries and localities in the United States began establishing vaccination passports. Other national, state, and municipal governments were contemplating coercive tactics to force individuals to get vaccinated, a questionable strategy that violates a fundamental human right: bodily autonomy.
Public health officials should have reconsidered these practices in light of the findings of the Israel research. Martin Kulldorff, a professor at Harvard Medical School, commented that the data appeared to undermine the basis for vaccination requirements.
“Prior COVID disease (many working class) provides better immunity than vaccines (many professionals),” wrote Kulldorff, an epidemiologist and biostatistician who has studied infectious diseases for decades, “so vaccine mandates are not only scientific nonsense, they are also discriminatory and unethical.”
Despite these findings and other obvious and convincing evidence that natural immunity provided effective protection against Covid, governments continued to establish and enforce regulations.
CNN estimates that 100 million Americans might be affected by President Biden’s December vaccination regulations for government employees, companies, and health care professionals.
“We have the tools to combat the virus if we come together to use those tools,” Biden said.
The policy meant that many U.S. employees would be terminated if they refused vaccination, even if they had already been exposed to Covid. (It is worth mentioning that during his presidential campaign, Biden stated, “I do not believe [vaccination] should be required. I would not insist that it be required.”)
While the Supreme Court halted elements of Vice President Biden’s immunization order, other provisions remain in place. Moreover, several states and municipal governments have adopted mandatory vaccination laws in response to CDC recommendations.
A Different Tune?
After nine months, the CDC is singing a completely different tune.
Upon the release of revised pandemic guidelines last week, CDC epidemiologist Gretchen Massetti told reporters what many have been saying for over a year: both vaccines and past infection give protection against severe Covid symptoms.
“Both prior infection and vaccination confer some protection against severe illness,” Massetti told reporters. “And so it really makes the most sense to not differentiate with our guidance or our recommendations based on vaccination status at this time.”
In light of this, the new CDC recommendations treat vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals equally. The Atlantic says that less than a year after pronouncing Covid “a epidemic of the unvaccinated,” the Biden administration is organizing its midterm campaign around the “victorious return to normalcy.”
‘We’ve Created an Interest Group’
We should be thankful that the CDC’s regulations have finally caught up with the facts and that state epidemiologists are now acknowledging the “textbook” science of natural immunity.
However, the change raises issues, the most significant of which being, Why did it take so long?
We received convincing scientific data more than a year ago that persons with natural immunity were much less likely to develop Covid symptoms than vaccinated individuals who had never had the disease.
Yet, unvaccinated Americans were sacked, humiliated, and shunned because public health experts at the time refused to admit what they acknowledge now: that natural immunity protects persons. Why, therefore, did it take public health professionals a year to admit the “textbook science”?
There is no simple response to this question. Critics of the government’s strategy, such as Stanford epidemiologist Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, refer to the government’s flawed incentives as the “Covid Industrial Complex.”
“We’ve created an interest group to keep the pandemic going,” Bhattacharya said in a recent interview with British journalist Lucy Johnston.
The study of economics teaches us to view politics without sentimentality.
Pfizer had a market capitalization of $275 billion, and its stock price more than quadrupled from March 2020 to December 2021, from $26.04 per share to $59.48 per share. The expansion of Moderna was even more remarkable. Prior to the epidemic, the price of its shares was $19. In September 2021, its share price surpassed $449, representing a rise of almost 2,000 percent.
It is hardly an exaggeration to state that billions of dollars depended on whether or not Covid vaccinations were required or voluntary, which may explain why Pfizer alone spent over $10 million lobbying in 2021 and much more in 2020.
The idea that anything as crass as financial incentives may have played a part (even a tiny one) in Covid policy may shock some, but it’s crucial to remember that compelling people to buy or use items (ostensibly for their own advantage) is a time-tested practice of crony capitalism.
People frequently associate crony capitalism with government payments to mega-corporations, but this is by no means the only tactic Big Government and Big Business exploit to benefit themselves.
The French economist Frédéric Bastiat of the nineteenth century famously remarked, “The state is the big fake entity through which everyone strives to survive at the cost of everyone else.” Unlike common brigands, street thugs, or marauders, however, Bastiat explained that state actors and their allies steal from their subjects through legal means and find elaborate ways to do so, such as lobbying lawmakers to mandate the use of products they do not wish to use, thereby doubling their revenues and enriching their shareholders.
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it,” Bastiat observed in Economic Sophisms.
This in no way implies that immunizations are ineffective or do not provide protection against Covid. They do, and data shows that immunizations provide those who have received Covid with additional protection. (However, like with other vaccinations, they are not risk-free.)
But the choice to receive a vaccination should never be made by more than one individual.
And the fact that the CDC — an agency plagued by missteps throughout the pandemic, according to its own director — was so slow to recognize the basic science of natural immunity demonstrates precisely why crucial medical decisions should be made by individuals, not bureaucracies or special interests.