The study, which was published last month in the medical journal Eurosurveillance, detailed a nosocomial outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 at Meir Medical Center in Israel. Nosocomial means originating in a hospital.
It started when a fully vaccinated dialysis patient confined in the hospital tested positive with the virus. An outbreak occurred as the patient infected 42 out of 248 total people exposed. Of the 42 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, all but three were fully vaccinated. (Related: VAX FAIL: Latest "covid" outbreak in Israel occurred mostly in "fully vaccinated.")
Twenty-three of the infected were patients while 19 were hospital staff members. The fully vaccinated patients suffered the most, with five dying and nine experiencing severe illnesses. It is worth noting that two of the three unvaccinated patients only experienced mild symptoms.
The authors of the study expressed concern over their findings, saying that it "challenges the assumption that high universal vaccination rates will lead to herd immunity and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks."
They add: "In the outbreak described here, 96.2 percent of the exposed population was vaccinated. Infection advanced rapidly (many cases became symptomatic within two days of exposure) and viral load was high."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) actually corroborated the Israel study, saying that the COVID vaccines and boosters can't fully prevent someone from getting infected with the virus. People with natural immunity to the virus – those who have recovered from COVID-19 – appear more protected than fully-vaccinated individuals.
Neurologist Dr. Michael Segal explained why people vaccinated against COVID-19 are still contracting and spreading the disease at a high rate.
Segal wrote in an article published by the Wall Street Journal that the vaccines only stimulate internal immunity but do nothing to address. Internal immunity protects the inside of the body while mucosal immunity provides the first line of defense by protecting the nose and mouth, and by doing so also reduces spread to others.
He said that all COVID-19 vaccines "are largely ineffective at stimulating the secretion of a particular form of antibodies called Immunoglobulin A (IgA) into our noses that occurs after actual infection with a virus."
Meanwhile, those who have contracted and recovered from the disease have both mucosal and internal immunity. That's the reason why some experts are now recommending that the virus be allowed to circulate throughout the population, with precautions taken for vulnerable individuals.
"We really cannot do anything else but allow the virus to take its course in order for the population to achieve herd immunity," said Porolfur Gudnason, chief epidemiologist of Iceland's Directorate of Health. "We need to try to vaccinate and better protect those who are vulnerable but let us tolerate the infection. It is not a priority now to vaccinate everyone with the third dose."
Some are asking whether catching COVID-19 now is better than more vaccines. (Related: COVID-19 natural immunity vs vaccine-induced immunity guide.)
"If you had a real humdinger of an infection, you may have better immunity to any new variants that pop up as you have immunity to more than just spike [protein]," said Eleanor Riley, an immunologist from the University of Edinburgh. "We could be digging ourselves into a hole, for a very long time, where we think we can only keep COVID away by boosting every year."
Multiple studies have found that most people who have recovered from COVID-19 retain a broad and durable immunity to the disease.
After people recover from infection with a virus, the immune system retains a memory of it. Immune cells and proteins that circulate in the body can recognize and kill the pathogen if it's encountered again, protecting against disease and reducing illness severity.
An Emory University study published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine found that most of the patients who recovered mounted a strong and wide-ranging immune response to the virus for at least the 250-day duration of the study.
The study involved 254 COVID-19 patients between 18 to 82 years old, who provided blood samples at various points for a period of over eight months beginning April last year. About 71 percent of the patients had mild disease, 24 percent experienced moderate illness and five percent had severe disease.
Another study, which was published on Jan. 6 in Science, analyzed immune cells and antibodies from almost 200 people who had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and recovered.
Antibodies against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 were found in 98 percent of participants one month after symptom onset. The number of antibodies ranged widely between individuals, but their levels remained fairly stable over time, declining only modestly at six to eight months after infection.
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