STUDY: Immunity From Infection As Protective As COVID-19 Vaccination

(Photo by RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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A new study published Thursday in The Lancet found that immunity granted by a COVID-19 infection is just as strong, if not more so, than the immunity provided by two doses of an mRNA vaccine against the virus.

Natural immunity from prior COVID-19 infection reduces the risk of hospitalization or death from the virus by 88%, researchers found. The study’s authors wrote that this level of protection was “at least as high, if not higher” than that of two mRNA vaccine doses.

“This is really good news, in the sense that protection against severe disease and death after infection is really quite sustained at 10 months,” Dr. Christopher Murray, the study’s senior author and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told NBC News.

Murray added that relying on natural immunity could still be perilous, though, because “you might be one of those people that end up in the hospital or die” on first infection.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 65 studies across 19 countries, the biggest meta-analysis ever conducted on natural immunity from COVID-19. It compared individuals who had recovered from prior infections to those who had not yet been infected as of September, and excluded people who had both natural immunity and had been vaccinated. (RELATED: Fauci Was Part Of Group Assembled To ‘Disprove’ Lab Leak Theory, Emails Show)

The protection provided by natural immunity was shown to last as long as ten months. Natural immunity appeared to fade more slowly than the protection offered by vaccines.

Both Murray and Dr. Bob Wachter, chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told NBC News that policymakers should consider natural immunity moving forward when discussing things like vaccine mandates.