Why Your Natural COVID Immunity Is So Long-Lasting and How to Boost It

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As some countries roll out their 5th COVID-19 booster, many question the need for the next dose. For some, extra shots are recommended by the CDC, but that doesn’t mean we should all jump on the vaccine wagon.

Since nearly 1 in 3.5 Americans have had a confirmed COVID-19 infection, and our natural immunity would be tougher than a booster, there are other ways to boost your own antiviral immunity.

But does a natural infection induce stronger immunity than a vaccine? If yes, why?

Is natural immunity stronger than the vaccine?

It is true that people who have already been infected with COVID are more resilient to it.

When your body is infected with a virus, it means that our innate immunity is not strong enough to stop the virus at the front line of the physical barrier or epithelial layers. As a result, adaptive immunity will be activated.

When it comes to antiviral adaptive immunity, there are two main pathways that can be triggered, the Th1 or Th2 pathway.

Regardless of the type of virus we may face, a prominent Th1 cellular immune response and its antiviral function of downstream cytotoxic T cells play a critical role in eradicating the virus from our body. The Th2 pathway with activated B cell responses plays a secondary or complementary role in the entire antiviral battle.

If the Th1 type immune response is not strong enough or if the Th2 response exceeds the Th1 type response, it is more difficult to eliminate the virus from our body.

For people who had a natural COVID infection, their Th1 pathway should have been their primary response mechanism to intruding viruses because it secretes many interferons and activates cytotoxic T cells to mount a more comprehensive defense against incoming heavy infection. A multiclonal and rigorous antiviral battle took place in the patients resulting in a long lasting immune memory including a much longer and much higher level of antibodies.

While most COVID-19 vaccines are designed to activate B cell response rather than Th1 cell responses. This Th2 pathway activates many B lymphocytes but represents only a fraction of the entire adaptive immune system.

What the vaccine does is that it mainly stimulates the B cells through the Th2 pathway, while the complete natural defense mechanism, namely the combination of Th1 in the lead and Th2 as an adjuvant, cannot be developed only by an actual and natural infection.

This is why current COVID-19 vaccines are, by nature, functionally limited.

The stronger Th1 pathway, induced by previous infection, also lasts longer. In a cohort study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the immune responses of COVID-19 patients in Nicaragua with prior infection and those vaccinated were compared. According to the study, “protection was higher against more severe outcomes” in second-infected COVID-19 patients.

In this Home Influenza Cohort Study (HICS), 2353 participants in 437 households, with an age range ranging from neonates to 94-year-old adults, were observed for confirmed COVID-19 infection. Vaccinated persons were excluded from the study.

Using the percentage protection formula, which is subtracted from 100% by the risk ratio of HIV-positive and HIV-negative subjects, the protection rate against COVID-19 infection was calculated. The percentages of protection are as follows:

  • Prior infection provides 78.9% protection against moderate to severe reinfection
  • Prior infection provides 68.1% protection against symptomatic reinfection
  • Prior infection provides 63.9% protection against any type of second COVID-19

The protection rate against COVID-19 from a previous infection is approximately 63.9% as of October 2021, which is lower than the protection rate of 93.6% calculated with data from March 2021. This is likely due to the much longer follow-up period for observed infection as well as the advantages of novel COVID-19 variants over previous strains.

An Israeli study conducted in August 2021 reported that vaccinated people, who were not previously infected, were up to 13 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than those already infected when the Delta strain was at its peak. .

The study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic illness and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, but this probably also applies to new variants.

In this retrospective study, two groups of individuals were compared.

  1. People with no history of COVID-19 infection who received two doses of the Pfizer BNT162b2 primary series and were 16 years of age and older, count=673,676
  2. Unvaccinated and previously infected individuals, count = 62,883

After applying three multiple logistic regression models, the study assessed four outcomes: breakthrough COVID-19 infection, symptomatic infection, hospitalization and death. Fortunately, no deaths were reported during this study.

Compared to unvaccinated and previously infected people (group 2), vaccinated people without a history of COVID-19 infection (group 1) were much more likely to be at risk of infection.

Using the first model, Group 1 was about 13 times more likely to have a breakthrough infection, 27 times more likely to have symptoms, and about eight times more likely to be hospitalized compared to Group 2.

The second model predicted that Group 1 was about six times more likely to have a breakthrough infection and about seven times more likely to have symptoms or be hospitalized compared to Group 2.

This study reaffirms again that our innate immunity provides more resilient and durable protection against infections, symptomatic illnesses and hospitalizations caused by the Delta variant COVID-19. This study has not yet been officially published, since last August.

Is there anything to boost natural immunity?

Whatever vaccines you take, your state of health will always play a decisive role against any incoming infection.

Nature is a huge gold mine. There are many natural herbal ingredients that enhance the Th1 immune response to increase their antiviral effects.

One of the many great supplements is spirulina, a blue-green algae believed to have been eaten by the Aztecs as early as the 16th century. Generally available as a dietary supplement in pharmacies and some supermarkets, spirulina is rich in proteins, lipids, vitamins, essential amino acids, as well as minerals and many bioactive substances.

Not only spirulina, but many other active compounds derived from algae are widely used due to their antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties. They are beneficial to the point that NASA and the European Space Agency designate them as a must-have for astronauts.

In the March 2021 issue of The International Journal of Applied and Basic Nutritional Sciences, an article was devoted to assessing the prospect of spirulina and other seaweed-derived nutraceuticals as a supplement to help combat a COVID infection. -19.

Since the bioactive compounds derived from spirulina contain substantial amounts of natural ACE inhibitors, antioxidants, and antiviral compounds, the use of spirulina will serve to overall boost the immune system from afar.

When spirulina was given to healthy men between the ages of 40 and 65, their levels of interferons produced by immune cells when stimulated by IL-12, an agent associated with the activation of Th1 immune pathway, were much higher than the levels of the control group. This means that spirulina as a supplement can effectively strengthen the natural immune system of the human body holistically.

It is highly recommended to purchase supplements, especially spirulina but also others, from brands that reasonably source their raw materials, as heavy metal contamination is a huge issue in this particular dietary supplement.

So now the question remains, should you even get a callback? What about bivalent boosters with that promised Omicron effect? New booster shots will always help reduce the death rate. They will boost your immunity, but boosters, bivalent or not, are still not as effective as a previous infection and a healthy immune system. If you are immunocompromised, then a booster will likely be challenged for you to generate antibodies.

However, you should always keep in mind that the antibodies generated by vaccines will decrease over time.

Either way, you need to boost your own immunity as a starting point. A traditional healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet and a positive attitude can work wonders.

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