By Zachary Stieber
The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should acknowledge the immunity conferred by prior COVID-19 infection in their messaging, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said Sunday.
Marshall, a doctor, has called for many Americans to get a COVID-19 vaccine but also opposes vaccine mandates like the ones put forth by President Joe Biden and top officials in his administration.
Instead of mandating vaccination, Marshall recommends being honest with people about vaccines, including how studies indicate people with natural immunity, or the immunity that people have after recovering from COVID-19, derive little benefit from getting a jab.
“The CDC needs to acknowledge natural immunity,” Marshall said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“And really, the messaging coming out of the White House has to acknowledge natural immunity and be honest with America,” he added later.
Host Chuck Todd challenged the senator, asking whether he was encouraging people to get the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Would you advise somebody to get the virus rather than get the vaccine?” Todd wondered.
“Of course not. But if you’ve had the virus, that needs to be acknowledged and then a decision made with the patient and the doctor deciding if they should get the booster or not,” Marshall said.
“Maybe check their level of antibodies. Take into account what their healthcare situation is. A type II diabetic that’s had the virus, I would check their level of antibodies and probably encourage them to get the booster. But a 19-year-old Navy SEAL who has a higher chance of getting pericarditis, a heart inflammation, than going to the hospital from the virus, I probably would have a different answer. So, you cannot have a one-size-fits-all recommendation from the federal government,” he added.
The CDC estimates that nearly 30 percent of Americans have antibodies from resolving or recovering from a COVID-19 infection, as of Sept. 21. It also estimates that there have been 146.6 million total infections as of September.
A slew of studies, including a recent one from Israel, indicate that people with natural immunity have much better protection against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, than those who got a vaccine but have never been infected.
Some research also suggests that people with natural immunity get a higher level of protection when they get a single vaccine dose, though some experts argue the boost is negligible and note that it may come with an added risk of side effects.
The CDC has acknowledged natural immunity in recent months after spending little time discussing it throughout the pandemic. The agency said last month that immunity from vaccination and prior infection both last at least six months, but alleged no tests are available to reliably determine whether they have natural immunity. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, has encouraged virtually everybody, including the naturally immune, to get vaccinated.
Biden and the White House have not appeared to touch on natural immunity, and none of the federal vaccine mandates—many of which are held up by courts—include opt-outs for people with it.
Marshall also said Sunday that one of the groups most at-risk of dying from the disease, senior citizens, should get a vaccine booster, and people with prior infection should consider getting one.
“If you’re a senior citizen and haven’t gotten your booster yet, shame on you. Please go do that. If you have underlying health care conditions, if you’re diabetic, if you’re overweight, please go get the booster because you’re going to get the virus and be exposed to it, I’ll guarantee it,” Marshall said. “And if you don’t have that booster, we know the vaccines kind of run out after about five to six months. Natural immunity would help, and even those with natural immunity may want to consider getting the booster as well.”
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