A recent study by the Cleveland Clinic analyzing more than 50,000 of its employees over five months found that those who had been infected with COVID-19 did not benefit from vaccinations. During the study, researchers found that not a single person who had been previously infected with the virus became ill.
According to a Life Sciences news report, the participants were divided into three groups. One group consisted of people who were previously infected and unvaccinated. The second group already had COVID-19 but received two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, and the third group were people who did not have COVID-19 but received their shots.A fourth, control group, never had COVID-19 and were not vaccinated.
The study, available in preprint and has not been peer reviewed, found that 99.3% of all infections occurred in participants who were not infected previously and were unvaccinated. Only 0.7% of COVID-19 illness appeared in those who didn’t have COVID-19 but received their vaccines. And amazingly, not a single infection was found among study subjects who were previously infected, with or without vaccination.
Researchers found that the duration of natural protection and immunity against COVID-19 remained strong for at least 10 months after infection. Experts point out that the study was performed during a period of vaccine shortage but provides useful information for countries still experiencing lack of supplies to combat COVID-19.
“What we don’t know is what’s the duration of protection? And also remember that our population of healthcare workers is younger in general, it’s healthier,” said Dr. Steve Gordon, of the Cleveland Clinic, one of the study authors. “We’re not saying don’t get the vaccine.”
Gordon pointed out that antibody response differs from person to person, so there is no way to accurately gauge someone’s immunity to COVID-19 based on previous infection. And infectious disease experts warn that natural immunity may not protect against the more aggressive variants emerging.
“Even though you’ve had COVID-19, it’s still very important for you to get the vaccine,” says Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious disease expert, according to Health Essentials. “We know a small number of people can get COVID-19 a second time.”
Englund adds that the vaccine can boost your immune system so that even if you do encounter the virus again you are much less likely to become seriously ill.
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