In an article for TheBlaze, Daniel Horowitz claimed on August 25, 2021 that 15 studies indicated that surviving COVID-19 provides better immunity than getting vaccinated does. CDC studies have already directly proven the opposite, but I thought it would be good to still fact-check this claim to show how it's a lie.
It should be noted that the author, Daniel Horowitz, is not an immunologist. Much like me, he is a lawyer. However, I apparently have better reading comprehension and/or ethics than he because whether through ignorance or malice, he is dead wrong, often claiming the exact opposite as his sources. He and TheBlaze are simply spreading misinformation, and I fear people who just trust whatever the media tells them will fall for their lies. You should not believe whatever you read on the Internet.
He cites 15 studies and gives a summary, so I made a short, simple list going through each one and saying how he's wrong and why that study does not claim the lie that immunity from COVID-19 infection is better than immunity from vaccines:
- Effector cells are a faster response but not more durable. What that study actually implies is that infection immunity actually goes away faster, while vaccine immunity will last. Source TheBlaze got this straight-up backwards.
- This study doesn't study vaccinated people at all.
- Doesn't claim infection immunity is better in any way.
- Doesn't study vaccinated people at all.
- TheBlaze only talks about infection immunity being more robust in CD8 T cells, which the study author notes in unsurprising since the most immunodominant epitopes recognized by CD8 T cells in COVID-19 patients are contained in ORF1 and not spike proteins. The mRNA vaccines focus on the spike protein and hence are far more effective at targeting that, I believe with B cells primarily. The study author notes that it is unknown how much the CD8 T cells really matter, but that they were even present in the vaccinated people 12 months later is promising for the vaccines' efficacy and durability. It obviously makes no claim infection immunity is better than vaccinated immunity like TheBlaze mischaracterizes it to say.
- The (not yet peer-reviewed) study says that getting one vaccine does after surviving COVID-19 significantly increased the T cell response, but a second shot (third exposure to the spike protein) didn't. In other words, saying the vaccine helps even if already infected. Note that the part TheBlaze quotes is talking about how CD4+ T cells that came from vaccination focused on the nasopharynx in people who also had COVID-19 before compared to people that only got vaccination. These immune cells would not have existed if the study participants did not get vaccinated after getting sick. That doesn't in any way suggest that infection immunity alone is better than vaccine immunity. It shows quite the opposite, and TheBlaze just doesn't understand what it's talking about, especially with it's inane unsourced rant afterwards based on their false conclusion.
- This study is only talking about antibody titers, which convey short-term immunity, not about methods of long-term immunity. It notes that initially, vaccine immunity had five times levels of antibody titers but that after six and a half months it finally fell to the levels of infection immunity. So the short-term immunity from vaccines wildly outclasses immunity from getting sick for six months, then the short-term immunity from infections is better. It makes no claims about long-term immunity which normally is the primary method of protecting people after more than a couple months.
- This study doesn't study vaccinated people at all. It's only mention of them is that other studies found that infection in fully vaccinated people was likewise extremely rare pre-Delta.
- This study doesn't study vaccinated people at all. It's only mention of them is that other studies found that infection in fully vaccinated people was likewise extremely rare pre-Delta. It also notes that its results are odd because other studies have found that people with infection immunity were much more likely than people who got vaccinated to get infected in the future.
- This study just says that both natural immunity and vaccines were highly effective prior to the Delta variant. It makes no claims that infection immunity is better than vaccine immunity.
- This study says vaccination produced much better short-term immunity than having a mild case of COVID-19, but not as good as being put in critical condition by COVID-19 did. It notes that Alpha and Beta didn't really change anything, although vaccinated participants were only as good as people that recovered from mild COVID-19 at their short-term immunity to Beta. It makes no claims infection immunity is better than vaccine immunity, and while it reassures that Alpha and Beta weren't going to evade any immunity, it doesn't study more recent variants like Delta or claim that a further variant couldn't arise to do so.
- This study doesn't mention vaccinated people at all. It does note that asymptomatic people had fewer proinflammatory cytokines. Although the The Blaze author conveniently ignores that the proinflammatory cytokines in symptomatic people were created by the infection. This implies that people with infection immunity are more prone to cytokine inflammation than people who were vaccinated.
- This study doesn't study vaccinated people at all and doesn't claim natural immunity is better in any way. It says that infection immunity was effective and long-lasting in Singapore, despite being contradictory to what other studies have found elsewhere. They hypothesized that this was because Singapore was hit by SARS and thus that acted a sort of vaccine that COVID-19 infection boosted. Regardless, they don't even say this unusual level of infection immunity was better than a vaccine.
- Very heavily summarizing, this non-peer-reviewed study says that vaccinating already-infected people gives a bigger advantage than giving a booster to vaccinated but not infected people. It in no way claims that recovering from infection but not getting vaccinated is better than getting vaccinated. It rather extols the advantages of getting vaccinated if you've have COVID-19.
- This non-peer-reviewed study says that vaccinating a COVID-19 survivor increases their immune response by almost 10 times compared to not vaccinating them. They note some contraction after the second dose, but they do not show causation, and these levels are still wayyyy above the people who got COVID-19 and then didn't get vaccinated.
These studies actually prove vaccination is better than infection immunity alone. Horowitz's claims are false, Horowitz and The Blaze are just spreading lies. If you read The Blaze, find a better news source.