A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Wednesday shows that those who have recovered from COVID-19 have more protection against infection than those who have only been vaccinated.
Researchers reviewed data from California and New York from May to November, when the delta variant was dominant in the U.S.
The study looked at four groups of people: unvaccinated with no prior COVID-19 infection, vaccinated with no prior infection, unvaccinated who recovered from COVID-19, and vaccinated who recovered.
By the first week of October, COVID-19 rates among the vaccinated with no previous infection were 6.2 times lower in California and 4.5 times lower in New York than among the unvaccinated with no previous infection.
However, among the unvaccinated with a previous infection, the COVID-19 rate was 29 times lower in California and 14.7 times lower in New York.
The individuals most protected against infection were those who had previously had COVID-19 and were also vaccinated. Their infection rate was 32.5 times lower in California and 19.8 times lower in New York.
“These results demonstrate that vaccination protects against COVID-19 and related hospitalization, and that surviving a previous infection protects against a reinfection and related hospitalization,” the CDC determined.
The agency noted that natural immunity proved more efficacious as the delta variant became predominant and vaccine-induced immunity for many began to wane.
The CDC also highlighted that the study took place before omicron became the dominant variant in the U.S. and before the impact of booster shots could be adequately measured.
Dr. Benjamin Silk of the CDC told the media on Wednesday, “Before the delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection,” CNN reported.
“When looking at the summer and the fall of 2021, when delta became the dominant in this country, however, surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against subsequent infection than vaccination,” he added.
Dr. Eli Rosenberg, New York state deputy director for science said the safest course of action for those who have never had COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.
“Having COVID the first time carries with it significant risks, and becoming vaccinated and staying up-to-date with boosters really is the only safe choice for preventing COVID infection and severe disease,” he said.
Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has faulted policymakers for being too slow to acknowledge natural immunity.
“The pandemic of the unvaccinated is a misnomer. It’s a pandemic of the non-immune,” he tweeted in July.
The pandemic of the unvaccinated is a misnomer. It’s a pandemic of the non-immune. More precisely, it’s a series of regional outbreaks in select pockets of the country with low population immunity. Same take-home message though: If you’re not immune, get immune by getting vaxed.
— Marty Makary MD, MPH (@MartyMakary) July 29, 2021
“More precisely, it’s a series of regional outbreaks in select pockets of the country with low population immunity,” Makary said. “Same take-home message though: If you’re not immune, get immune by getting vaxed.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.