Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. Two new Omicron variants of the novel coronavirus have been making the rounds in the United States over the past couple of months. They’ve been designated as BA.4 and BA.5 “subvariants.” (We’ve apparently run out of Greek letters.) Despite all of the hype surrounding the latest flavors of the virus, hospitalizations and deaths haven’t been surging the way they did in 2020 and most deaths are still attributed to the Delta variant, not Omicron. But one thing that has become increasingly clear is that the newer Omicron subvariants are better at dodging the commonly used vaccines than Alpha, Beta, or Delta. Another less-reported statistic comes to us in a recently published study in the science journal Nature from the Weill Cornell Medicine center in Qatar. As it turns out, the natural immunity from a previous infection of any of the Omicron variants is actually significantly more effective in preventing reinfection than the commonly used vaccines.

The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of SARS-CoV-2 have proven to be stealthier at evading people’s immune defences than all of their predecessors.

But recent research shows that previous infection with an older variant (such as Alpha, Beta or Delta) offers some protection against reinfection with BA.4 or BA.5, and that a prior Omicron infection is substantially more effective. That was the conclusion of a study that evaluated all of Qatar’s COVID-19 cases since the wave of BA.4 and BA.5 infections began1.

The work, which was posted on the medRxiv preprint server on 12 July and has not yet been peer reviewed, feeds into broader research on “how different immunities combine with each other”, says study co-author Laith Abu-Raddad, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar in Doha.

The differences in the efficacy of natural immunity from the various versions of the virus were quite stark. The researchers found that a previous infection of the Delta variant only provided 28.3% resistance to a BA.4 or BA.5 infection. But unvaccinated patients who had previously contracted any of the Omicron variants displayed a whopping 79.7% resistance to infection by the new subvariants. That is considerably higher than the protection seen in vaccinated patients.

You may recall a time when Dr. Faucci told the nation that the vaccines were so awesome that they work better than mother nature. This study suggests that Mother Nature may disagree. And an increasing number of studies have indicated that repeated shots of the new mRNA technology vaccines may actually weaken or damage your immune system when it comes to other diseases. These same studies found that 1 in 5,000 people experienced significant side effects after being vaccinated. That’s still a fairly low number, but it adds up to quite a few people in a country where hundreds of millions have been vaccinated.

Just this week, the CDC approved a new vaccine from Novavax. It’s made in the traditional method, using a weakened form of the virus to stimulate the body’s natural immune response systems. It does not employ the experimental mRNA technology. Is it really such a crazy idea to suggest that perhaps we rushed things a bit too much with this new technology and we should consider switching back to something that we know a lot more about while more research is conducted?

Just for the record and to provide transparency, I’ve already had three shots of the Pfizer vaccine. (Two initial doses and one booster last November.) I currently do not plan to get any more. I’ve spoken to my doctor and she is unconvinced how much additional protection another booster would offer if I have concerns over getting it. If I do wind up getting any more COVID shots I will probably look into getting the Novavax version. I’m not a doctor, nor do I have any formal medical training, so I’m not suggesting that anyone follow my example or treat this as adequate medical advice. But I do try to keep up to date on all of this and I’ll just say that my confidence in the current system is not growing any stronger.

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