The data is in, and it's time for the conversation to shift away from vaccine mandates and move toward managing immunity.
The goal from the start of the pandemic has been to reduce serious illness, deaths, and hospital overloads.
The purpose of the vaccine is to build protective immunity in people before they become infected with COVID-19, so they won’t get seriously ill. That’s clearly a logical path for most people who want to avoid this potentially deadly virus.
...but focus on that key phrase for just a moment...
The purpose of the vaccine is to build protective immunity in people.
The vaccine cannot prevent you from contracting the virus, but it can prevent you from becoming seriously ill.
Managing immunity is the only way we can achieve the goal of reducing serious illness, deaths, and overloading of our medical system.
And if protective immunity is the key to achieving our goal, then we need to recognize it in all forms.
If protective immunity is the key to achieving our goal, then we need to recognize it in all forms.
In fact, the most recent and extensive studies show that while there is clearly a benefit in vaccination, there is little benefit in vaccination for those who have recovered from COVID-19.
Even the CDC’s recent study confirms that COVID-19 survivors have better immunity than people who have been double or even triple vaccinated.
If we were to frame the concept of immune protection in terms of a bulletproof vest made of Kevlar, then the Kevlar material would be the equivalent of antibodies. Where we bought the vest shouldn’t matter as long as it is made of Kevlar material.
The real key is the NIJ rating, which is the measure of how protective the bulletproof vest actually is against specific ballistics and velocity.
But our government seems to be telling everyone who owns a Kevlar vest that unless you bought it from their store, it’s no good. If you bought it anywhere else, you’re going to lose your job and your freedoms. And pay no attention to the NIJ rating. Even if your vest’s NIJ rating is the same or higher than the one the government is selling, if you don’t have theirs, you lose.
That alone should tell you that we’ve lost our way, and we’ve lost sight of the goal.
So, if the goal is truly immune protection against COVID-19, why are employers forcing people who already have protective immunity to be vaccinated under threat of termination?
Why are city governments requiring those who have recovered from COVID-19 to be vaccinated or lose their basic freedoms such as eating at a restaurant, staying at a hotel, using public transportation, going to school, flying in an airplane, or leaving the country?
And it seems particularly unjust for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to terminate the employment of unvaccinated frontline health care workers who have recovered from COVID after having endured countless hours and days caring for terribly ill and dying COVID patients.
To be clear, I don’t think these policies are driven by some dark, conspiratorial campaign.
I think the truth is that these policies are mainly driven by fear.
For the past two years, we’ve been told by the CDC and our governmental leaders that vaccination was the only path to immunity. We were told that those who have recovered from COVID-19 may have some type of natural immunity, but we “we don’t know how long natural immunity might last” and so we shouldn’t rely on it.
The overwhelming majority of research now confirms that both natural immunity and vaccinated immunity have a shelf life.
Both natural immunity and vaccinated immunity have a shelf life.
And, we know that shelf life can be as short as 3 months or as long as or longer than two years (only because the pandemic is barely two years old).
Research consistently shows that natural immunity over time results in significantly fewer infections when compared to vaccinated immunity, as the graph below illustrates. The only thing nearly as durable as natural immunity is the hybrid form of immunity (where someone has been vaccinated and has also recovered from a COVID-19 infection). And even then, natural immunity appears to have the edge.
But, perhaps the biggest issue that keeps these policies in place is the fact that business and government leaders don’t know that managing immunity is possible. You can actually measure and monitor protective levels of antibodies in individuals.
How readily available is technology for managing immunity in individuals?
Virologists and epidemiologists have used this technology throughout the pandemic to measure antibody levels in plasma of previously convalescent COVID patients. They use that plasma to develop and manufacture treatments for other COVID patients.
If they’re using the plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19 as an effective treatment for other people who have contracted the virus, then why can’t we use the measuring system that determines the protective nature of that plasma to monitor our own unique levels of immunity?
Only recently has this technology become accessible to the public, and it is rapidly catching on in clinics and workplaces across America.
The Surrogate Virus Neutralization Test or sVNT can detect total RBD-targeting antibodies, which are the specific antibodies that block the virus from attaching to the cell and replicating. The sVNT is a functional assay that gauges virus neutralization activity. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call it an Immunity Profile.
The Immunity Profile is not the same antibody test that you would typically encounter in a walk-in clinic, CVS, or Walgreens. These over-the-counter tests are great for identifying the presence of IgM, IgG, or IgA antibodies, but they do not provide any insights as to actual neutralizing activity.
The Immunity Profile, on the other hand, is a simple blood test that is processed in a lab and allows you to monitor and measure your own unique levels of protective immunity to COVID-19 and its variants. This is a functional assay that takes highly specialized lab equipment to process.
Your Immunity Profile tells you in an easy-to-understand manner how well-protected you are against SARS-COV2, the Delta variant, and the Omicron variant (coming soon). It also tells you if you’ve been exposed to the virus within the last 6 months.
That information empowers you, as an individual, to make your own decisions and choices about how you move forward in this seemingly never-ending pandemic.
- Do you need a booster shot now, or can you afford to wait a little while?
- Should you attend that basketball game, or should you stay home?
- Should you wear a mask in that building, or should you just stay six feet away from everyone?
- Are you at risk if you share a ride with someone who is unknowingly COVID positive, or will you have enough protection to ward off infection or keep from becoming seriously ill?
Access to this knowledge at your own individual level not only empowers personal decision making, but it also brings back the confidence that has been so clearly shaken these past two and a half years.
As a business leader, access to this technology allows you to develop new policies and protocols to keep your entire workforce safe.
By linking the Immunity Profiles of your workforce into a HIPAA compliant Immunity Management System or dashboard, you can now not only empower the individual, but you can empower and enlighten the entire workforce while increasing confidence and safety at the same time.
Unlike other safety programs and protocols, managing immunity helps keep workers safe inside and outside of their work environment.
That keeps families safe, it keeps communities safe, and it keeps schools safe.
Putting in place this one simple testing program can have far reaching implications that extend well beyond the doors of your office.
So, if you’re a business leader or a political leader and you want to have an impact on your community or your economy, putting in place this one simple testing program can have far reaching implications that extend well beyond the doors of your office.
The economic impact to a community for keeping someone employed, for keeping any member of their family out of the hospital, or for keeping them protected regardless of whom they encounter is substantial.
And that is what makes this type of employer-led program such a game changer in a world consumed with fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
Isn’t it time we stop dividing the country by classifying people as either Vaccinated or Unvaccinated?
Isn’t it time, instead, that we look at managing immunity rather than vaccine status alone?
After all, the vaccines themselves only work by tricking the body’s natural immune system into producing the very same neutralizing antibodies that are produced when one is infected with the virus.
So, what does it look like if you start managing immunity inside of your work environment, your school, your athletic department, your medical system, or even your retirement community?
Keep in mind, all medical studies take a large sampling of people and boil the data down to a meaningful and general hypothesis or conclusion. Those conclusions are always hotly debated based on any number of nuances, but the goal is to arrive at some general conclusion that can be applied to the masses.
Thus, when a study shows antibodies declining over a 200-day period, they derive the slope of the decay by averaging large data sets over a specified timeframe.
Take for instance this study of previously infected individuals. Here, you see 4 different slopes of antibody decay. The degree of that slope is directly related to the severity of the disease. Each dot in each of those charts represents an individual, a human being, someone’s mother, father, son, or daughter.
In this example, Person A would have needed a booster shot or would have presumably needed to take extra precautions after about 75 days, as their antibody levels are extremely low. You wouldn’t want someone slipping into your organization through a false negative on a PCR test and have them hanging around Person A.
Person B would be on the threshold of needing additional protection around day 100.
Person C, on the other hand, has extremely high levels of neutralizing antibodies and would still be well-protected even after almost six months. A booster shot would be completely wasted on Person C and might even create an immune response that causes severe complications. Instead, any booster shot for Person C should probably be allocated to Person A or Person B.
In other words, if you’re the employer, you should spend your time worrying about protecting Person A, and you certainly shouldn’t terminate Person C if he or she wasn’t vaccinated.
With a “get vaccinated or get fired” policy, how do you know you’re not throwing out the baby with the bath water?
So, the bigger question is: How do you know which dot is most like you?
How do you know which dot is your best or most valued employee?
How do you know which dot needs your protection the most?
In other words, with a “get vaccinated or get fired” policy, how do you know you’re not throwing out the baby with the bath water?
If you really want to optimize personal protection, performance, and productivity in your environment or your workforce, you need to have a way to manage immune protection by the individual (the dot, so to speak), rather than by the rule of thumb (the slope of the mean).
That means you need to shift your policies and protocols away from monitoring and mandating vaccines or masks into monitoring and managing immunity in your workforce or student body at the individual level.
Immunity management is easier and less expensive than you might think.
In fact, a policy of weekly testing and enforced vaccination is actually far more expensive and significantly less effective in protecting your workforce than managing immune protection.
And protective immunity management certainly provides a sounder layer of protection for the individuals that are working in your care and then returning home to their families.
Managing immunity results in better timing, better allocation of vaccine resources, and better health care outcomes.
The latest research shows that vaccines come up short in comparison to natural immunity when one is infected with the Delta variant. There are also studies that show that protective immunity, regardless of origin, helps mitigate hospitalization but won’t necessarily keep you from getting infected with the newer variants like Omicron.
One key reason might be the fact that there are certain proteins the virus introduces that are not replicated by the vaccine, thus, the body never produces the antibodies to counter those antigens.
Antibody levels wane over time – regardless of whether that antibody production came from a vaccine or from an infection.
And because your body eventually shuts down antibody production to conserve energy when the viral threat subsides, antibody levels wane over time – regardless of whether that antibody production came from a vaccine or from an infection.
The pharmaceutical answer to that waning is for you to belly up to the bar and take another booster shot. But is a booster shot really necessary in 100% of the people the minute it becomes available? Is it actually wise for every individual to follow the exact booster timeline guidance of the CDC or the FDA?
Getting a booster shot when you already have a high percentage of neutralizing antibodies is either going to be wasted at best or dangerous at worst.
As discussed earlier, the problem with generic guidance is that everyone’s immune system is different, and the level of antibody production varies greatly from individual to individual. Some people have an immune system that struggles to produce antibodies at a meaningful level and others produce them at a rapid and abundant rate.
Getting a booster shot when you already have a high percentage of neutralizing antibodies is either going to be wasted at best or dangerous at worst. Recent numbers out of the US military are even calling into question the safety of a universally-applied vaccination and booster program.
So, managing immunity at an individual level regardless of the origin of immunity makes sense in a multitude of ways:
- People have access to information as to their own unique level of protective immunity to COVID,
- People understanding their own level of protection leads to confidence and the ability to make informed decisions to optimize their health and safety,
- Employers can retain employees who haven’t been vaccinated by paying attention to their protective immunity measurements rather than their vaccine status,
- The families of employees can feel better about sending their loved one to work if they know they are protected at a personally measured level,
- Increased employee retention reduces hiring and retraining costs,
- Reduced terminations mean reduced unemployment claims,
- Reduced unemployment increases the tax base of the local community, and
- Fear in the community and in the country can gradually subside as we move forward into a future where people know where they stand when it comes to their protection against COVID-19 and any of its oncoming variants.
So, again… I have to ask:
Isn’t it time we start measuring and monitoring immune protection rather than vaccine status?
If you want to discuss how the Immunity Profile might work in your organization, schedule a free, 30-minute Immunity Management assessment with us.