I’m glad you reached the conclusion that the immune system …

Comment on Natural Immunity vs. Vaccines vs. the Delta Variant by Sean Pitman.

I’m glad you reached the conclusion that the immune system God designed into our bodies gives better protection against infection than vaccines do.

God didn’t “design” COVID-19 derived immunity any more than vaccine-derived immunity. What God designed was an immune system that could learn from past infections (or exposure to foreign antigens) in order to prevent future infections by the same type of invader more effectively.

You see, I’m not sure that we have the same definition of “natural immunity” in the context of COVID-19 here. The human body was designed with two different types of immune systems known as the “innate” and “adaptive” immune systems. Consider, now, that I’m not talking about generalized immunity that isn’t specific or targeted against COVID-19 in particular. In other words, I’m not talking about the “innate” immune system. What I am talking about is the “adaptive” immune system – a type of immunity that can be gained by surviving a “natural infection” to COVID-19 – which then produces “natural immunity” or “naturally-derived immunity” within the adaptive immune system that is specifically targeted against future COVID-19 infections. And, as already mentioned, while this “natural” method of gaining targeted adaptive immunity can be superior to the immunity gained by vaccines, for some people, it is far riskier and is not nearly as consistent as vaccine-derived adaptive immunity.

But, you counter with the argument that vaccines are also not consistent since there are “breakthrough infections”. However, the consistency I’m talking about is in regard to the reduction of and deaths – not just breakthrough nasopharyngeal infections (which aren’t the real problem). As noted in my McCullough article (Link), a fairly new study showed that the “percentage of variant cross-binding memory B cells was higher in vaccinees than individuals who recovered from mild COVID-19.” (Goel, et al., August 23, 2021). In this regard, it seems as though those who were vaccinated have an advantage in that the resulting immunity is more consistent and predictable as compared to natural immunity. These higher levels of memory B-cells within vaccinated people may also be the reason for the long-term protection against hospitalizations and deaths – despite the waining levels of antibody levels against the virus over time. Memory T- and B-cells produced in response to the vaccine can be “awakened” when an infection hits the body, a pre-formed arm that is ready to fight off the repeat offender. This is all right in line with a recent Lancet study:

Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed data from a project called the ZOE Covid Study, where users report symptoms, vaccination status and other demographic information daily via an app. The researchers looked at data collected on more than 1 million people from December 2020 through July 2021, a period that spanned both the alpha and delta variant waves in the U.K. Participants received two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine. Overall, less than 0.2 percent of the participants reported a breakthrough infection, with such cases more likely in people already considered to be vulnerable, including older adults or people with underlying illnesses. When breakthrough infections did occur, most were mild — just 6 percent of people with breakthrough infections reported symptoms. What’s more, vaccination was shown to cut the risk of hospitalization by more than two-thirds. The study also found that the chances of developing long Covid were cut in half in fully-vaccinated people. Long Covid refers to when people experience symptoms of the illness, such as brain fog, exhaustion and a racing heart, for at least a month after infection, and sometimes much longer. (Link)

Those are AMAZING results – for the vaccinated.

For the unvaccinated, on the other hand, there is also the problem that up to a third of people who were previously infected by COVID-19 don’t develop antibodies against it (Liu et al., September 2021). Ultimately, 36% of those who were infected by COVID-19 remained seronegative, meaning that they never developed detectable levels of such antibodies in their blood, even when multiple blood samples were checked for each person. The study also revealed that people who had lower SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in their respiratory tract were less like to subsequently have antibodies in their blood. This means, of course, that the adaptive immune system was never educated enough to effectively combat future infections by COVID-19.

So, you see, the vaccine may not reach as high a level of immunity as is gained by some who survived a prior infection by COVID-19. However, the level of immunity gained, when it comes to reducing hospitalizations and death, is more consistent for the vaccinated. This is the reason why there are so many stories of those who thought that they were safe, because of some previous mild COVID-19 infection, but then got infected again with COVID-19 and got very sick, particularly with the Delta Variant, with many dying as a result.

As far as your “alternative views” being more hopeful and less scary, that would be the case if they were actually true. The problem is that the conspiracy theorists that you consistently follow paint the vaccines as much more risky and scary than they truly are and the COVID-19 pandemic as much less serious and much less scary than it really is. They also create far more confidence in alternative drugs and therapies, like ivermectin for instance, than is actually supported by the weight of scientific evidence. That’s the problem. They create fear where there shouldn’t be fear and they create confidence where there shouldn’t be so much confidence. They get things exactly backward.

This is not to say that I think things were handled by the government very well at all. I don’t think it was necessary to shut down the government, for one thing. However, this is all 20/20 hindsight of course.

As far as the “miraculous recoveries” you mention, these are far too few. There are far far too many hospitalizations, serious long-term injuries, and deaths to be very comforted by miraculous recoveries. Clearly, these miraculous recoveries aren’t remotely common enough nor are they associated with drugs like ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine which have, so far, not shown a consistently detectable benefit in the best and largest RCTs.

Sure, ivermectin has relatively few side effects (unless you overdose) and a low mortality rate. However, it’s not as though the mortality risk is zero. “Between the years 2003 and 2017, the total average population treated [with Ivermectin] was around 15,552,588 among which 945 cases of SAE [severe adverse effects] were registered in DR Congo, i.e. 6 cases of SAE for 100,000 persons treated per year. 55 deaths related to post-CDTI SAE were recorded, which represents 5.8% of all cases of SAE.” (Link). Still, the point here is that even if the risks for ivermectin were actually zero, there’s still no good evidence that it provides much of a useful benefit – certainly nothing close to the benefits provided by the vaccines against COVID-19.

Yet, you write:

If an alternative drug is safer than aspirin and there are thousands of claimed recoveries resulting from the drug, isn’t it worth a trial, no matter what the “studies” say, considering the alternative is often death after being on a ventilator?

It might be worth a try if that was your only option. However, it isn’t your only option. Now that we have vaccines that provide a very clear and very substantial benefit, it is far far more reasonable to take the vaccines than to trust that ivermectin will save you – when the best scientific studies have yet to detect much of a benefit, even with early treatment, at reducing severe COVID-19 infections or death.

But it’s okay. We each can choose a path that is consistent with the best evidence as we understand it. For that matter, it seems to me that vaccination is the best course for many but not for others. Most don’t bother to understand just what these COVID vaccines do, much less do a benefit-risk analysis. But some of us do, and some of us find that avoiding the COVID vaccine, boosting our immune system and preparing for a possible infection is the best path for us.

You’re certainly free to choose. However, your choice could impact others – in a negative way. If the vaccines really do significantly reduce the odds of transmitting the virus to others (as several studies have shown), the choice of a person not to get vaccinated increases the odds of viral transmission to others who might not do as well against a COVID-19 infection. We aren’t islands here. Our choices have the potential to affect other people.

But, you think you can “boost your immune system” some other way. I wish this were true, but there just isn’t any other way that is as effective as the vaccines at the moment. The problem is that as humans age, our immune systems deteriorate at an almost exponential rate. Diet and healthful living do help, to be sure, but this does not negate the need to take advantage of the additional substantial advantages offered by vaccines – and this becomes more and more true the older and older we get. Add as many layers of protection as you can. Do it all. Be as healthy as you can be – AND take the vaccine.

Consider also that even a very healthy young person, who personally might have a very low risk of serious sickness or death, can still get infected and transmit the virus to others who might not do so well with an infection.

I suspect everyone will be exposed to this corona virus sooner or later, just as we have been to other corona viruses.

Indeed. However, the faster we can achieve herd immunity, as a community, the more those who are most vulnerable among us will be protected. And, the fastest and safest way to do this is via vaccines.

What concerns me most is the lack of respect among Christians for those with opposing views. While I don’t see vaccination as a salvation matter, an attitude of forcing others into agreement with our views is not an attitude born of the Spirit of God but of the enemy. I believe we can agree on that.

Love and respect never go out of style. However, there are times when the most loving thing to do is to protect those who are most vulnerable from those who are unwilling to act in a way that best protects the most vulnerable – particularly, say, in a hospital or nursing home setting. This isn’t to say that I’m a fan of government mandates for the general population. I’m not. I think that such mandates are largely counterproductive. Given that the vaccines are generally available for those who want them now, it seems best to me to limit mandates to those who work in settings where people are sick or old or otherwise vulnerable.

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Natural Immunity vs. Vaccines vs. the Delta Variant
You’re commenting on an older post regarding natural immunity. Since then, additional evidence has indeed come to light showing that natural immunity goes well beyond antibody production and is therefore generally superior to vaccine-based immunity. Of course, vaccine-based immunity does have a couple of advantages over natural immunity. The most obvious advantage, of course, is that vaccine-based immunity is gained without having to take on the significant risks associated with getting infected by COVID-19. The additional advantage of vaccine-based immunity is that it seems to offer more consistent immunity compared to natural immunity (i.e., some who were infected don’t gain significant immunity following infection).

I discuss all of this in much more detail here: Link

As far as being more critical of evolutionists, look, I’ve reviewed a great many conspiracy claims. I usually get several sent to me every day. It’s not like I haven’t reviewed these claims you’re sending my way. It’s just that they almost always turn out to be completely false or misleading. It’s the same thing as with the evolutionary arguments I get – except it’s now on the other foot. What you believe regarding COVID-19 and vaccines simply doesn’t have the weight of empirical evidence to back it up. I know the claims of conspiracy theorists can be scary and worrisome. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re true. They just aren’t true. The minority opinion isn’t always true. In fact, the majority of experts are usually right – as in this case.


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
That’s true. So, the question is if these limitations are substantial enough to reasonably overcome the conclusions of the authors. The fact remains that your own personal experience doesn’t seem to be the same as those published in papers like this one where there are actual reinfections for those who have previously had COVID-19. Several friends of mine have been reinfected and a cousin of mine has been reinfected three times…


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
Exactly…


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
There’s “peer review” and then there’s peer review.

Beall remained critical of MDPI after removing the publisher from his list of predatory open access publishing companies. In December 2015 he wrote that, “It is clear that MDPI sees peer review as merely a perfunctory step that publishers have to endure before publishing papers and accepting money from the authors” and that “it’s clear that MDPI’s peer review is managed by clueless clerical staff in China.”

Beall, Jeffrey (17 December 2015). “Instead of a Peer Review, Reviewer Sends Warning to Authors”. Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016.

In July 2021, an article titled “Journal citation reports and the definition of a predatory journal: The case of the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)” was published in the academic journal Research Evaluation, written by María Ángeles Oviedo-García. Oviedo-García argued that MDPI used self-citation practices known as “citation cartels” to increase the apparent Impact Factor of MDPI journals, and that MDPI journals bear a number of hallmarks of predatory publishing. MDPI also released a public comment on the article on August 19th, 2021, claiming the article was predicated on the notion that MDPI was a predatory publisher, and that the article misrepresents MDPI business practice. In that comment, MDPI did confirm that its journals had some of the highest self-citation rates amongst academic publishers. The article in Research Evaluation later received an editorial “Expression of Concern,” and as of November 25th 2021, an investigation is ongoing.

Regardless of all of this, the main point that the authors of this paper make is not substantiated by their research. T-cells and B-cells simply are not affected by the mRNA vaccines to any significant degree. So, their arguments really are mute here. That’s the bottom line. You still have no mechanism behind your claims that the mRNA vaccines are more dangerous than they are beneficial or more risky than getting a live COVID-19 infection.


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
Don’t you also disagree, by definition, with anything that doesn’t agree with your views? Come on now. If I agreed, then there would be no disagreement. The real question is, who has the greater weight of evidence? Again, where is your evidence? Where is your mechanism that makes any sense?


Mandates vs. Religious Exemptions
The spike protein that is produced by the mRNA vaccines has an anchoring portion, a “transmembrane domain” that keeps it embedded in the membrane of the muscle cell that produced it.

“The end product in host cells expressing these mRNA vaccines is a surface-exposed, membrane-anchored, glycosylated, and trimerized Spike protein resembling the 3-D structure of the native viral Spike protein, to the extent that it interacts with its cognate receptor, hACE2.” (Link)