GOP senator calls for Biden administration to recognize ‘natural immunity’
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Biden administration on Sunday to recognize natural immunity when combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Marshall, a physician, voiced support for ongoing coronavirus immunizations but appeared to also argue that not everyone needs a booster shot. He said protection offered by natural immunity from having contracted COVID-19 should also be taken into consideration.
“If the CDC could have pivoted sooner, we would have saved thousands of lives. I think being honest with people, the CDC needs to acknowledge natural immunity,” said Marshall. “Look, as a physician, I was never able to talk anybody into stopping smoking by a mandate or by trying to argue with them. It was by being honest and communicating with them.”
“Ninety-two percent of Americans have some level of immunity to this virus based upon the CDC website. So let’s start there. And, really, the messaging coming out of the White House has to acknowledge natural immunity and be honest with America,” he added.
Noting Marshall’s repeated calls for natural immunity to be acknowledged, host Chuck Todd asked if Marshall would recommend people get the virus instead of the vaccine.
“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. Maybe check their level of antibodies. Take into account what their health care situation is,” Marshall said.
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) December 12, 2021
Some anti-vaccine groups have argued that having natural immunity from a prior infection should preclude people from having to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However health experts have repeatedly stated that people who have recovered from COVID-19 will still benefit from getting vaccinated.
A CDC study released earlier this year found that immunity offered from full vaccination was stronger than the protection offered by prior infection. The study found that people hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms were five times more likely to test positive if they had a prior infection than if they were vaccinated.
Early studies have suggested that booster shots on top of full immunization offer protection against the omicron variant, which has rapidly spread around the world since first being detected in South Africa. As National Geographic reported, omicron appears to be able to reinfect individuals who previously contracted the coronavirus.
“Reinfection risk has increased markedly since the beginning of October in South Africa, and this seems to correspond with the emergence of the Omicron variant,” DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis told the magazine.