Immunity, NOT Vaccination, Is The Achilles Heel Of The COVID-19 Pandemic And Our Civil Unrest.

In America, we should opt for cogency and decency to one another, over coercion and disrespect for the other. Immunity, not “one-size-fit-all” vaccination, is our way out of the COVID-19 debacle. But why doesn’t the Biden administration see the nuance?

Why is it that the only US senator who is demanding cogency and decency in hearing the voices of the American people in the minority, those either harmed or already immune and coerced into getting unnecessary vaccinations, is being demonized by the media and governing establishment?

As with most other infections caused by transient viruses and bacteria, those who are adequately immune to COVID-19 are rarely, if ever, getting reinfected — regardless of whether this immunity comes from vaccination or from a natural infection.

On the other hand, folks who are NOT immune to SARS-CoV-2 are susceptible to being infected. So, it is a certainty that a vast majority of the American population (likely over 85–90%) need to become immune, for our nation to end this pandemic.

Most experts agree that IMMUNITY is the Achilles heel of the COVID-19 pandemic — both on the personal from and on a social level.

But with the emergence of the Delta variant and vaccine “breakthrough” infections, many un-immune Americans have lost faith in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine for achieving immunity.

Add to that the arrogant mishandling of vaccine complications by our federal public health officials — and their failure to act to minimize vaccine harm using common sense medical ethical precepts — and the result is that many Americans are refusing to get vaccinated.

This lack of public confidence in our greatest defensive weapon against the pandemic is a serious national health and civil security problem for the United States. Because it’s a safe bet that for our nation to bring this pandemic under control, we need over 90% of our population to be well immune against SARS-CoV-2.

But the Biden administration is failing to see that the problem of vaccine hesitancy is rooted in serious FDA and CDC leadership failures — as much as it is in misinformation. Instead of focusing on earning the hesitant public’s trust and transmitting scientifically and ethically cogent messages, these agencies have actively or passively created a framework for coerced vaccination of Americans who, for whatever reason, are hesitant to get vaccinated.

To start, the US push to vaccinate people with pre-established acquired immunity from a prior infection is a disastrous mistake — it’s illogical, scientifically suspect at best, and has eroded tremendous trust in our federal government on the part of millions of already immune Americans. In fact, in my opinion, this error is our federal government’s single gravest error in public policy related to the COVID-19 vaccine’s deployment.

It doesn’t help that the more transmissible Delta variant is tearing through our communities and the CDC is blaming “breakthrough” infections on Delta bypassing vaccine immunity. But immunologically, “vaccine bypass” is highly unlikely to be the cause of the breakthrough infections.

When the COVID-19 vaccine successfully immunizes the recipient, it protects the vast majority of the immune from serious infection and illness. This is basic immunological science — my statement is not theoretical, nor is it wishful thinking!

It’s far more likely, and the simplest immunological explanation to the phenomenon, that the vaccine “breakthrough” cases are happening in people who are not adequately immunized by their vaccination. Because neither the Delta variant’s Spike antibody epitopes, nor its T-cell epitopes have drifted enough, genetically, from the vaccine’s sequence to cause immune bypass. So, when the COVID-19 vaccine induces effective immunity in the recipient, like natural infection itself does, it is very well protective.

The serious concern is that FDA, CDC, or the vaccine manufacturers are not addressing the simplest explanation to the breakthrough cases: that a fraction of vaccine doses fail to adequately immunize the recipient. This would mean that a subset of “fully vaccinated” Americans are not adequately “immunized”. Such poorly immunized, or entirely unimmunized but “vaccinated” Americans would, of course, be susceptible to infection with any COVID-19 variant, including Delta, which is dominant now.

Thus, Delta variant being the culprit in the majority of vaccine breakthrough infections, is neither surprising nor necessarily because this variant has bypassed the vaccine’s immunity — rather it is because a significant proportion of vaccinated Americans are NOT immune.

So, FDA and CDC need to be focused more squarely on immunity in both naturally immune and in vaccinated Americans — not just forcing an irrational “one-size-fit-all” COVID-19 vaccinations edict.

But instead, on May 19, 2021, FDA issued a paradoxical advisory discouraging Americans from testing the status of their antibody immunity to COVID-19. Of course, such testing is the gold-standard for determination of immunity against any transient pathogen — and SARS-CoV-2 is no exception.

This FDA advisory creates an unacceptable block to individual Americans’ ability to obtain the critical piece of personal immunity information necessary to act rationally to protect themselves in this pandemic. Even more concerning is that by not encouraging liberal COVID-19 antibody testing, especially in fully vaccinated Americans, the FDA and CDC are preventing vaccinated, but inadequately immune, persons from finding out that they remain susceptible to infection.

Interestingly, in my own experience as a physician, patients who hesitate to undergo vaccination are far more likely to do so when they are confronted with a negative antibody test demonstrating they are susceptible.

I find it shocking that the moment the only one in government attempting to interrogate the FDA’s irrational May 19, 2021 advisory is US Senator Ron Johnson.

In an August 22, 2021 letter to FDA and CDC, Senator Johnson stated: “In its May 19, 2021 advisory, the FDA specifically discouraged Americans and their physicians from determining the status of their antibody immunity to SARS-CoV-2. It would seem to me that more medical information, not less, is the key to improving health outcomes related to any disease, including Covid-19.”

The US Senator from Wisconsin is 100% correct — the FDA should immediately rescind this dangerous advisory. Because immunity is the Achilles heel of this terrible pandemic — and though immunity can be achieved through vaccination, immunity and vaccination are NOT always synonymous.

If every American could easily find the exact status of his or her immunity to SARS-CoV-2, our nation could best optimize its defensive medical and civil posture in this pandemic.

Cogency and decency, not Coercion and disrespect for one another, is how America will defend herself well.

But the hour is getting late and many of us are confused, disenfranchised and mistrustful — Let us unite, instead, in friendship to save our nation from peril.

Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD is a physician-scientist. He is an advocate for ethics, patient safety and women’s health. He and his 6 children live in Pennsylvania.