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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and medical advisor to President Joe Biden, was unable to give an definitive answer during an interview last week as to why people who have recovered from COVID-19 should be vaccinated when a recent Israeli study that found that “natural immunity” conferred by a previous infection could yield stronger immunity against the virus than currently-available vaccines.
While being interviewed during a segment on CNN on Friday, Fauci was asked by the network’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, about the push to vaccinate those who have already been infected by COVID in light of the Israeli study’s findings.
“I get calls all the time people say, ‘I’ve already had COVID, I’m protected.’ And now the study says maybe even more protected than the vaccine alone. Should they also get the vaccine? How do you make the case to them?” Dr. Gupta asked Fauci.
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“I don’t have a really firm answer for you on that,” Fauci responded. “That’s something that we’re going to have to discuss regarding the durability of the response. The one thing that paper from Israel didn’t tell you is whether or not—as high as the protection is with natural infection—what’s the durability compared to the durability of a vaccine? So it is conceivable that you got infected, you’re protected, but you may not be protected for an indefinite period of time.”
However, Fauci did note that there could be validity to the Israeli study, and that more research in that regard should be carried out.
“So I think that is something that we need to sit down and discuss seriously because you very appropriately pointed out, it is an issue, and there could be an argument for saying what you said,” he said.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky last month spoke on a study her organization had conducted in conjunction with researchers in Kentucky that also acknowledged that natural immunity from prior COVID-19 infection could be effective, but that effectiveness could be greatly increased if the patient was vaccinated as well.