Sunday, November 7, 2021

Fwd: Natural immunity versus vaccination

---------- Forwarded message ---------

My friend (who does not believe in vaccines):

"In my opinion, we should be glad to see more active cases which produce more natural immunity and herd immunity given that over 99% of active cases recover from the disease. Most serious research shows that natural immunity provides protection against all of the COVID variants. So the statistic that really matters is not how many cases of COVID exist but what percentage of deaths occur from COVID, especially in those that are not compromised in some way, like the children who show hardly any symptoms even when they are COVID positive."


My friend,

I'll start by saying that it is difficult to change people's beliefs because people associate their beliefs with their identity. Because of this, some people interpret ideas counter to what they believe as a personal attack, or at the very least take a defensive posture.

Please try to keep an open mind.

I have always looked at this pandemic from a mathematical perspective. Even in the early days, when I saw the number of cases rising exponentially, mostly just in China, I figured that this was going to be a big problem. The early estimates were that every infected person infected 2 to 4 other people, which is an R Factor (reproductive rate) of 2 to 4. Usually, anything greater than 1 is considered to be a problem. Recently, a few countries have gotten the R factor to be less than 1 by enacting strong measures. (, However, if anything the R factor has gotten worse because the Delta Variant is more infectious. ( Recently the U.S. CDC updated their estimate to reflect the Delta variant having an R-naught of 8.5. (

So when people made the prediction that barring any preventative measures the entire world would get COVID, this seemed reasonable. As infectious as the Delta Variant is, I feel somewhat confident that anyone who is not vaccinated or does not have natural immunity is going to get infected.

Of great importance is the death rate from the disease. Although it was fairly high in the beginning, it hasn't changed much over the last year. Every time I run the numbers comparing cases to fatalities, I get a death rate of about 2%. ( If the death rate were closer to say the flu, at around 0.1%, I think that we would have an entirely different scenario, although the R factor of the flu is only about 1.5 Officially only 14% of the U.S. population has gotten the disease, but I'm seeing claims that it might be as high as 30% (, which would affect the death rate, but the number is still significant.

Therefore I take big issue with many people in the conservative media who try to claim that the death rate is only 0.2% or even 0.1%. One out of every 429 Americans has died from the disease, which by itself is greater than 0.2%.

There are reasons to think that faith in natural immunity by itself is misplaced. (

Since we are looking at 193,425,862 fully vaccinated people in the United States (, and an additional 30 million partially vaccinated people, versus 33 million recovered cases, it is the vaccine that is primarily resisting the disease. Suppose there was no vaccine? We could be looking at 200 million cases with 2 to 4 million deaths. We are already up to 775,000 deaths with a fairly strong vaccination program. I actually think that the disease would not stop at 200 million cases, and everyone would get infected.

There is no way that relying on natural immunity by itself makes sense mathematically or logically. The additional deaths, whatever that may be, are just not acceptable.

You caught the Delta Variant and you recovered. Good for you. But were playing Russian Roulette with your health. The death rate for people in their 70's is 4.28%. For people in their 80's, it is 7.8% ( These percentages were almost double a year ago. ( I do not think that your natural immunity is going to last you more than a year. ( Some estimates have said 3 months. That means that you are going to be playing the same Russian Roulette every year, with your odds getting worse every year.

So if there were no vaccine, we could be looking at millions of deaths every year. The price of achieving herd immunity through infection means that almost everybody gets infected, with millions dying, and with no guarantee that this protection will last longer than a year.

As long as we have a large population of unvaccinated people, a higher number of variants will arise, a few of which could be worse.

Best wishes

John Coffey

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