Covid: Prior infection vs vaccination

Covid vaccination vs prior infection

Ever since the beginning of the covid pandemic, one of the big topics of discussion has been whether infection results in lasting immunity. Since the advent of the vaccines, that has expanded in to a discussion about whether prior infection or vaccination provides a higher degree of immunity.

Back in December, I wrote about a study that showed that 90% of people who get covid still have antibodies six months out from infection. This was encouraging news. However, all it really did was show that most people keep their antibodies for a decent period of time after infection. It didn’t actually tell us anything about the probability of being re-infected.

Antibodies are a “surrogate” marker. We think they might tell us something useful, but we can’t really be sure. It’s kind of like looking at the share of a population that have high blood pressure instead of looking at the proportion that are having strokes. We really don’t know whether the presence of antibodies after infection means that someone is immune, or whether the absence of antibodies means that someone has lost their immunity. In fact, we still don’t really know whether antibodies play a meaningful role in fighting covid or not. Correlation isn’t always causation. Antibodies appear to be a good marker for prior infection, but that doesn’t mean that they have a causal role in preventing a re-infection.

So, what we really need is a study that looks at the degree to which people actually get re-infected, not more studies that look at antibodies. Once we have that, we can do a comparison with the results of the vaccine trials, and then we will finally have a reasonably good estimate of whether prior infection or vaccination provides a higher level of immunity, or if they are equivalent. That is now exactly what we have, thanks to a study that was recently published in The Lancet.

This was a cohort study carried out in the UK that recruited 25,661 NHS hospital workers and then followed them for an average seven months. The study was funded by the UK government. Participants were divided in to two cohorts, a covid positive cohort and a covid negative cohort. The purpose of the study was to see what proportion of people in each cohort went on to develop covid-19. The data were collected during the second half of 2020.

Everyone who had or had previously had a positive antibody test or PCR test for covid-19 at the beginning of the study was placed in to the covid positive cohort, and everyone else was placed in to the covid negative cohort. The covid positive cohort contained 8,278 participants at the beginning of the study, while the covid negative cohort contained 17,383.

Since this was a study of healthcare workers, more than 80% were female, and since it was carried out in the UK, more than 80% were white. The median age was 46 years and 75% had no underlying health conditions. In other words, the results primarily apply to relatively young healthy white women. It’s actually a good thing that the participants were relatively young and healthy, because we want to compare the results we get here with the results from the vaccine trials, and the participants in those trials were also young and healthy. The fact that the study mainly consisted of white women shouldn’t be that much of a problem, since there is no evidence to suggest that non-whites or men are different in their ability to develop immunity after getting covid as compared to white women.

Questionnaires were sent out to participants every two weeks asking about whether they had recently had any possibly covid-related symptoms, and they were also tested at regular intervals with both PCR tests and antibody tests. The goal was to PCR test all participants every two weeks, and antibody test them once a month. In other words, the participants weren’t just tested if they had symptoms. They were continuously screened for covid.

This means that the risk of missing a case was very low. Rather the opposite, in fact. It means that they found a large number of asymptomatic cases, or as we normally call them in medicine, healthy people. This could have been a problem in terms of allowing us to compare the results of this study with the vaccine trials, since the vaccine trials only counted people as cases if they both had a positive PCR test and also had at least one symptom suggestive of covid-19. Luckily, it isn’t a problem, because this study has gathered and presented data on the proportion of those with a positive PCR test or antibody test that actually had symptoms, and the proportion that didn’t. So we have all the data we need to do an apples to apples comparison with the vaccine trials.

Ok, let’s get to the results.

Over the course of 2,047,113 days of follow-up in the covid positive group, there were 78 cases of symptomatic covid-19 (by which we mean a positive test + at least one symptom).

Over the course of 2,971,436 days of follow-up in the covid negative group, there were 1,369 cases of symptomatic covid-19.

This works out to a relative risk reduction 0f 92%. For comparison, the Pfizer vaccine trial reported a reduction of 95%, the Moderna trial reported an reduction of 94%, the Astra-Zeneca trial reported a reduction of 70%, and the Johnson&Johnson trial reported a reduction of 67%.

So, on the face of it, prior infection is equivalent to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in terms of the level of protection offered, and much better than the Astra-Zeneca vaccine and J&J vaccine. In light of this, it seems completely unnecessary for people who have had covid to get the vaccine. In fact, if the goal of governments is to get their populations to herd immunity as quickly as possible, it would make more sense to tell people who have had confirmed covid-19 that they don’t need to get vaccinated. Vaccinating people who have already had covid-19 means delaying vaccination of people who haven’t had it, which means delaying the onset of herd immunity.

There is one potential problem with taking the 92% number at face value, especially in relation to the results from the vaccine trials, and that is that this is an observational study, not a randomized trial, so there is significant scope for confounding. For example, it could easily be the case that the people who had already had covid at the beginning of the study were the people who were at highest risk of exposure. Maybe they were disproportionately front-line workers, caring for covid patients. In that case, they would be disproportionately more like to get exposed to covid again over the course of the study than the people in the covid negative group. If that was the case, it would make the risk reduction seem smaller than it really is.

Conversely, it might be the case that those who were covid positive at the start of the study were disproportionately working in areas that were hard hit during the first wave, and that therefore had already built up a high level of population immunity by the time the second wave came around. These areas would then be only mildly hit during the second wave. That would mean that those participants who were negative at the start of the study would disproportionately be working in areas that hadn’t been hit very hard in the first wave, and that would therefore likely be hit harder in the second wave. If that was the case, then the covid negative group would end up being more exposed to covid during the study than the covid positive group, which would make the risk reduction seem bigger than it is.

The researchers attempted to correct for confounders to the extent that they were able, and came up with a modified risk reduction of 93%. But correcting for confounding is really a kind of guessing game. It isn’t a very reliable technique. And for all the confounders that are known and that can be corrected for, there are plenty more that aren’t known and can’t be corrected for.

That being said, a 92% or 93% risk reduction is a huge reduction, not far off the difference in lung cancer rates seen between smokers and non-smokers, so even with unknown confounders pushing the results up or down, it is clear that prior infection provides a high degree of immunity.

Please provide your e-mail address below and you will get all future articles delivered straight to your inbox the moment they are released.

Join 23.9K other subscribers

114 thoughts on “Covid: Prior infection vs vaccination”

  1. Given the unreliability of PCR and lateral flow tests, with their false positives and negatives, how can we base any findings on this shaky foundation?

    1. 💯 true it completely negates the study results

      They should do one after testing for T Cell response to it

    2. PCR TESTING is highly flawed at CT rates of above 35…..15-18 CT gives a 100% positive or negative accuracy… the current rate of 35-40 CT there’s an 80% false positive result. That’s why the “rise in cases” that are reported by CDC is totally meaning less…although CDC recommended the labs to lower the rate today…probably to show the public that the cases are falling due to the vaccination program

      1. But the test still can’t identify the actual SARS-COV-2 virus. All it can do is amplify fragments of DNA and RNA. As Kary Mullis, the inventor said, ‘It’s not a test machine’. In fact it’s a ‘factory’ for duplicating bits and pieces of DNA/RNA for use in research.

  2. It makes sense that prior infection does as well as the vaccines. But what is going on with all the new cases in vaccinated people? Is this really happening or is this just more fake news or false positives?

    1. The vaccines often give you covid-19 symptoms, they actually make you ill with the disease.
      In the Pfizer trial they simply decided to ignore large numbers of participants that came down with coivd symptoms shortly after being injected with their concotion.
      [Pfizer lying, what a shocker!]
      Peter Doshi exposed this Pfizer fraud in the BMJ.

    2. Check the Seychelles with the most vaccinated country on the planet and currently in LOCKDOWN! The ‘vaccine’ neither protects against the virus (merely attentuates it) and doesn’t stop the vaccinated being infectious. The entire thing, is one, gigantic scam!

      1. The vaccine used in the Seychelles was primarily the Chinese vaccine not one of the western vaccines with higher efficacy.

  3. It doesn’t make sense to me anymore, to refer to those big expensive studies, be they RCT, cohort, observational, blah, blah, etc., done by big pharma themselves and then published in the big medical journals which these corporations also has major leverage over. And then to think about how high profile academics lends their names to these studies. It’s a racket.

  4. The flaw seems to be the positive cohort were partly done on a positive PCR test.
    We don’t know the accuracy of this test at all.

    1. The positive PCR test used for assignment isn’t the problem. The problem is from the false negatives getting assigned to the wrong group. You are correct that the supposed 2nd infection may have been misdiagnosed. Viral culturing ought to have been done.

      Of course, Dr. Rushworth is correct about the confounding possibility of differential exposure between the two groups.

  5. If, as Sebastian says, this study was funded by the UK government rather than Big Pharma, does that improve, reduce, or not have any impact on, the reliability of the results? As a UK citizen I have my views on the truthfulness and reliability of certain members of my government but that doesn’t help me much in this instance. What hidden agendas might they have? Perhaps they are heavily invested in Big Pharma – I am sure some are.
    But the findings are not really favourable towards Big Pharma, are they? They are I suspect likely to reduce rather than increase take-up of a vaccine.

  6. Exactly like big pharma, we cannot trust our governments to tell us the truth. I agree with Jesper Jaderkvist

  7. Dr Rushworth,
    Way back, well a couple of months ago, I asked you this very question: if I’ve had the bug (and hence some kind of immunity), why have the ‘vaccine’? Your answer was definitive; why indeed?

    Add to this the fact that the vaccines are not really vaccines, in other words, you can still get infected and, what’s worse, infect other people!!! The only difference being (in theory anyway) that the illness won’t be as severe (in some, I assume vulnerable people).

  8. Thank you for the post. I have no confidence in relative risk figures with the absolute risk being quoted. Where the absolute risk is tiny, as it seems to be with covid, the relative risk could be just noise on the signal.

    Where antibodies do not necessarily indicate immunity, neither does the lack of antibodies indicate a susceptibility.

    We have other figures such as the infamous “R” number, but since the transmission mechanism is not well understood ( so it seems most of the numbers from “official” sources should be taken with a bucket of salt.

    1. Thanks. I have a knee-jerk reaction to distrust anything that talks about relative risk. However, if we’re comparing different vaccines with natural infection and all the comparisons are of relative risk, at least that’s a little better.

    2. What test validate real immune response and protection?
      What is the basis for dose evidence and legislation and permission to let free potential xenobiotics getting injected into our bodies?
      There is a law suit court ruling in New York southern district april 2020 disclosong complete lack of documentation of vaccines since 1986 and still ongoing
      What quackery religion based on fear globally spread is this?
      Is there a study with the same samples being examined with PCR 24 and 45 sequences that would show quite intersting results?

  9. Hi Sebastina,

    Is the relative risk between smoker and non smoker not much higher?

    “Relative risk compares the risk between groups. For example, stated in terms of relative risk, a smoker is seven times more likely to die of lung cancer than a non-smoker. In absolute risk terms, a smoker has a 3 percent overall chance of dying of lung cancer compared to a non-smokers’ .4 percent chance.”,4%20percent%20chance.

    If something increase in risk 7 times that’s a 700% risk increase…

    relative risk of 7 times is much higher than 100% right?

    Also, if we look closely at relative risk rather than absolute risk, especially where risk is small, we can think there are massive improvements where on fact there are not. Would you agree?

    Thanks for your work

    1. A 93% reduction in risk for those with prior infection is equivalent to a 1300% increase in risk for those without prior infection. That’s in the same ball park as smoking, which is generally though to increase risk by somewhere from 1000% up to 2000%

      1. Thanks Sebastian,

        So without a prior infection you are 13 times more likely to become infected. Absolute risk of getting Covid being .0043 or .43%*. Here is a paper looking at the vaccine (Pfizer ) to have a similar effect** 90.7%.

        Think you will appreciate this paper and thanks for prompting me to do a bit of research on the absolute risk of Covid.

        I think the numbers and interpretation I have given are clear ( and correct) . All look right there to you?

        *from this equation “he absolute risk reduction for an individual is only about 0.4% (0.0043-0.0004=0.0039)”
        **”This yields a Covid-19 attack rate of 0.0004 in the vaccine group and 0.0043 in the placebo group. Relative risk (RR) for vaccination = 0.093, which translates into a “vaccine effectiveness” of 90.7% [100(1-0.093)].”

      2. Just to clarify for the other readers, I assume that when you are talking about risk reduction, you are talking about relative risk reduction, not absolute risk reduction. What are the numbers for absolute risk reduction?

      3. Small. Yes, it’s relative risk. Personally, I think relative risk is the better measure when talking about the vaccines, because it is assumed that without a vaccine around 70% of people will get covid before the pandemic is over, so absolute risk grossly underestimates benefit in a study where only a few percent get infected.

      4. How does overcycled PCR impact our estimates about whether the pandemic is over?

        Doesn’t it follow that if covid PCR is overcycled relative to influenza PCR, large numbers of influenza cases will be misdiagnosed as covid and large numbers of influenza deaths will be mis-reported as covid deaths? So how will we know if the pandemic is over? Perhaps the pandemic was actually over in November in the most of the US. Maybe the places supposedly experiencing declines in covid cases since January are actually seeing a dropoff in leftover viral RNA from an infection in October. That hypothesis seems more probable than the hypothesis that the vaccines are effective to explain the data.

        For certain, there are confounders to the claims of vaccine effectiveness based on real knowledge like overcycled PCR only showing exposure to the virus and not a current infection. Why do you suppose that the vaxx manufacturers didn’t bother to ever culture the virus to establish a confidence interval for supposed covid infections based on overcycled PCR and to eliminate false-negative PCR results?

        Let’s assume that false negatives average 30% of negative PCR test results, based on the Hopkins study. What does that do to claims of vaccine efficacy? Consider also that side effects from vaccines mimic symptoms of mild covid to some degree. What percent of people would have been vaccinated while they had an active, undiagnosed covid infection? What percent of people in the placebo arm initially received a false negative PCR while infected with covid, recovered from covid, then later contracted influenza, were tested for covid and got a false positive PCR result which only indicated previous exposure.

        Doesn’t it seem to you that there are truckloads of uncertainty in the vaccine efficacy numbers? And doesn’t it seem to you that that uncertainty could have been avoided if some viral culturing had been done?

    2. Consider the following from the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI):
      Relative risk reduction and absolute risk reduction measures in the evaluation of clinical trial data are poorly understood by health professionals and the public. The absence of reported absolute risk reduction in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials can lead to outcome reporting bias that affects the interpretation of vaccine efficacy. The present article uses clinical epidemiologic tools to critically appraise reports of efficacy in Pfzier/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine clinical trials. Based on data reported by the manufacturer for Pfzier/BioNTech vaccine BNT162b2, this critical appraisal shows: relative risk reduction, 95.1%; 95% CI, 90.0% to 97.6%; p = 0.016; absolute risk reduction, 0.7%; 95% CI, 0.59% to 0.83%; p < 0.000. For the Moderna vaccine mRNA-1273, the appraisal shows: relative risk reduction, 94.1%; 95% CI, 89.1% to 96.8%; p = 0.004; absolute risk reduction, 1.1%; 95% CI, 0.97% to 1.32%; p < 0.000. Unreported absolute risk reduction measures of 0.7% and 1.1% for the Pfzier/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, respectively, are very much lower than the reported relative risk reduction measures. Reporting absolute risk reduction measures is essential to prevent outcome reporting bias in evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy.
      Here is a similar analogy from the British Medical Journal, by Allan S. Cunningham, a retired pediatrician:

      Pfizer’s vaccine “may be more than 90% effective.” (Mahase, BMJ 2020;371:m4347, November 9) Specific data are not given but it is easy enough to approximate the numbers involved, based on the 94 cases in a trial that has enrolled about 40,000 subjects: 8 cases in a vaccine group of 20,000 and 86 cases in a placebo group of 20,000. This yields a Covid-19 attack rate of 0.0004 in the vaccine group and 0.0043 in the placebo group. Relative risk (RR) for vaccination = 0.093, which translates into a “vaccine effectiveness” of 90.7% [100(1-0.093)]. This sounds impressive, but the absolute risk reduction for an individual is only about 0.4% (0.0043-0.0004=0.0039).

      1. Think our reading has a big overlap Simon, so not doubt you will appreciate this:

        An important matter, the difference between absolute and relative risk and how it relates to report of vaccine efficacy.

        Outcome Reporting Bias in COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Clinical Trials

        “Relative risk reduction and absolute risk reduction measures in the evaluation of clinical trial data are poorly understood by health professionals and the public. The absence of reported absolute risk reduction in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials can lead to outcome reporting bias that affects the interpretation of vaccine efficacy

        Pfzier/BioNTech vaccine
        Relative risk reduction 97%
        absolute risk reduction of .7%

  10. Thank you very much for the GREAT information you provide. I TRUST your information so much more than the CDC, WHO, etc!

  11. Sebastian, this study proceeds on the premise that a positive PCR test equals infection by Covid-19. This certainly is the assumption of “covid medicine”, public health and governments, but is it a medical fact? The WHO since Dec 2020 requires examination of a “case” by a physician examining the patient, or at least the patient history and epidemiological background, before treating it as a case -Information Notices 2020/05 version 1 of 7 Dec 20, and 2020/05 of 13 Jan 21. Is this being honoured in the breach?

    Realistically, the PCR test indicates nothing except the presence of a fragment of coronavirus RNA of unknown origin, age and virulence. Self-reporting of self-perceived symptom is not the same as an objective examination by a physician. On the other hand, if there are no distinguishing signs for Covid-19, where does this leave it as a separate disease? However, given the uncertainty of PCR results, including indeterminate cycle thresholds, this study strikes me as a logical tautology.

    1. I was chatting with KennieG on Dr. Kendrick’s blog about this very point–that experts equate PCR positive results with an infection. Kennie said that experts understand that a positive PCR only indicates exposure. But then, with the Pfizer/Moderna studies, you add a cough or some other ILI symptom and presto! You have a covid case.

      No, what you have is an indeterminate ILI with exposure to covid. It’s so easy for us to fool ourselves.

      Culture the virus to rule out covid/influenza/etc.

  12. I do not believe that viruses are contagious- I am not religious,but besides believing in the terrain theory , i believe we were created in love and nothing like created to be contagious

  13. This study followed the healthcare workers for 7 months, before doing its calculations.
    I believe the vaccine trials did only 2 or 3 months follow-up before the EUA’s were granted.
    So (despite the limitations and misuse of high-cycle PCR), we can reasonably deduce that immunity from prior natural infection persists for at least 7 months. Whereas we do not know that about the vaccines.
    We also know that SARS-1 antibodies have been shown to persist for at least 12 years after an original exposure. So it is reasonable to hypothesise that natural Covid infection will also confer some long-lasting protection.
    I would also strongly suspect that the natural infection confers broad immunity against all the Covid variants (and perhaps all coronaviruses). Which is highly unlikely to be the case with the vaccines. Particularly if the virus can selectively mutate to achieve immune escape in response to vaccine challenge. And the signs are that this may be happening. Plans for third or more vaccines (software updates?) amount to an implicit acknowledgement of the inadequate protection of the first two shots, either because of antibodies that wane after a matter of months, or mutated strains arising that have acquired a capacity to escape the host immune system of a vaccinated individual..
    The logical conclusion would be that there is little or no benefit, and perhaps additional long-term exposure risk, associated with vaccinating low-risk groups (perhaps anyone under 60 in good health). But when did logic ever come in to it?
    And such a rational approach, if it were to be implemented, would make vaccine passports rather difficult to implement…..

  14. Is it possible that actual exposure may produce a more universal response than an mRNA vaccine that addresses a specific characteristic of the virus?

    1. Yes. There are more antigenic determinants from the virus than just the spike protein. This is why natural immunity is more effective with viral mutations. Especially if the mutable component is the spike protein.

    2. That’s why I was actually hoping to get a natural infection. Which didn’t happen. But it seems to me the mRNA vaccines may be too narrowly targeted, required constant updates. Big Pharma must be rubbing their hands in glee.

      1. You may have had the infection, or have had earlier immunity to it. This is not the deadly wipe out virus that it was said to be.

  15. I think it is worth mentioning that Health Care Workers are more likely than others to be continuously exposed to the virus, which means the antibody production is maintained.

    1. Excellent point
      Many of the studies have been conducted on Health Care Workers, and rarely is the respective demographic discussed as regards C19.
      Do you have any feedback on this comment, or can you elucidate further?
      thank you

      1. I can only speak for my wife and I.
        We both contracted Covid two days after our respective employers offered staff and residents the vaccination for Covid.
        We abstained.
        Since recovering, we have taken care of other family members stricken with the virus, including our 85yo mother and continue to work in an environment where Covid is likely to be present, according to the stats.
        We have had no further complications from the virus, showing me that our immune system worked and we now have natural antibodies against the virus.
        That said, there is talk of mandatory vaccination, both at our employment as well as per travel requirements.
        In fact Philippines have said that they will not recognize foreign vaccination programs and insist that travellers must obtain yet another shot upon entering their country. ???????????
        My biggest argument is, why would we need a vaccination against something we have had and now carry the antibodies for?
        That has never been a requirement, according to real science.
        The vaccination offers no cure against getting the virus.
        We cannot get that strain of the virus anymore.
        As for future strains?
        It is likely like any flu season in the past, present and future.
        Our own immunity will provide us with the protection we need.
        So why the demand that those recovered from the virus, must be vaccinated?
        That is not science.
        That is control. 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

  16. Thanks for sharing the study and your thoughts. Two long questions.

    Did the cycle threshold on the PCR test remain constant during the study? What was it and would it impact the study findings if greater than 35?

    Why is it that studies and many researchers only focus on humoral antibodies? Is this because it’s easy to measure? I’m one who believes that antigen programming by our T cells has a much more profound effect on long lasting immunity. Seems focusing on humoral antibodies is far too simplistic.

      1. Seriously, no PCR threshold in study? That can’t be! I must have missed that point in your book….why would this info not be published?

  17. It is unclear to me why people with prior infections were routinely vaccinated – and even given vaccination priority if they were in designated vulnerable groups – given the fact that their prior infection had already given them at least as much protection as the vaccine could give them. In countries with vaccine shortages this seems to be an irresponsible policy. And yet it seems to be policy everywhere. Why would this be?
    Another question: Could it be that by radically suppressing the transmission of the virus through aggressive social distancing we have made the problem of the mutations worse than it would have been if the original virus had progressed more quickly through the community?

    1. The advantage is to sell more vaccines. And it is easier to control the population with “Covid ID cards” than control who has had a vaccine vs who reportedly has had an infection. I experienced what I assumed was a case of flu in March of 2020. Was it flu? Was it Covid-19? I don’t know. Testing wasn’t even a thing then. I just did what I’ve always done when sick. Stay home in bed until I felt better. It took a week then another week or two of a lingering cough before I was ok. If I could get the t-cell antigen test I would but cannot find where to order one and my docs certainly aren’t cooperative, instead, they hide behind “standard of care” guidelines.

  18. My wife and I both contracted a Covid positive test result, two days after mass “vaccinating” was performed in both our employment locations.
    In both cases, outbreaks had occured. (My wife and I chose not to be vaccinated)
    That was the beginning of February.
    Both of us have been taking a proactive approach to any virus by maintaining clean hands and avoiding touching the face. Taking supplements of Vitamins (D)
    Masks are ineffective. I am almost certain it was through the fidgeting of my mask at work, is how I transferred the virus.
    In April my Mother, sister and her husband, all contracted Covid.
    My sister and I split the responsibility of taking care of our mom as our other two siblings are far too busy hiding under their beds 🙄 trying to avoid Covid.
    With my sister incapacitated, I took up the slack and cared for my mother.
    Neither of us wore masks.
    I tested immediately and as predicted, was a negative, after having been a positive two months earlier.
    My mom is a hugger and a kisser.
    For 3 weeks I have cared for my mother.
    We recently retested.
    Both negatives.
    So my natural immunity did protect me.
    And we both are immunocompromised.
    As far as I am concerned, I am living proof that it is unnecessary to take any vaccination once you have had Covid.
    The body has the required antibodies.
    And come any future virus related to Covid-19?
    The immune system remembers and will atack it accordingly, creating effective antibodies when necessary. (Dealing with variants/mutations)
    Just like any other encounter with flu viruses. 👍🏼

    1. I agree, I had CV19 last March and since then my 2 sons tested positive at different times for CV19. I was around both of them without a mask and I never got it. I give blood every 50ish days and I am still testing positive for Antibodies, 13 months later. I take Vit D, Zinc, And quercitin , I exercise, try to eat healthy and try to get as much real vitamin D/Sun as I can. Nobody is talking about working on your immune system just by being healthy. Instead they are trying to force an experimental vaccine on us.

      1. Same, positive antibodies 10 months later. Very mild case. No “long-haul” symptoms. Immune system working just fine. Scary there are so many experts that are immunity deniers. Can’t wait for this to blow over.

  19. You say a study of over 2 million days !! Are you kidding!! Thats approx five hundred years. What else is b s in your article

  20. Our local health authority has stated that we will endure travel and business restrictions until %60 of us are vaccinated. Papers must be presented if we wish to travel outside of our “health regions”. Antibody studies from respected journals are not accepted as reasons to travel.

    “South Africa required Black Africans to carry identity documents in the form of a “reference book” when outside a set of reserves (later known as homelands or bantustans.)”

  21. But of course they are lying about this too. They do not want your scientific gibberish… sabotage their goal of vaccinating everything with a pulse.

  22. It might be helpful, when thinking about duration and degree of immunity to Covid, whether from vaccine or infection, to bear in mind that the rate of recovery from the illness, whose symptoms are similar to common flu, appears to be for healthy people 99.9%, and for unhealthy people, 94%.

    1. That is looking at the same issue but through another window as the distinction between relative and absolute risk.

  23. Dr. Rushworth

    I’m intrigued by the work by Danish researcher Prof. Christine Stabell Benn who has demonstrated positive non-specific effects from live vaccines and negative non-specific effects from non-live vaccines. E.g. live polio vaccines save lives even in areas without polio, and on the other hand non-live vaccines will protect only against the target disease but give an increased overall mortality.

    Dr. Rushworth, what is your view on her research findings? And could there be any relevance for Covid vaccines?

    1. That was a very interesting TED talk. I’ve found more info about it in wikipedia:

      It’s still a hotly debated topic:

      “six WHO-commissioned studies concluded that there were strong beneficial effects of DTP on overall mortality. However, controversy ensued as these studies had important methodological shortcomings. For example, the WHO-commissioned studies had counted “no information about vaccination” as “unvaccinated”, and they had retrospectively updated vaccine information from surviving children, while no similar update could be made for dead children, creating a so-called “survival bias” which will always produce highly beneficial effect estimates for the most recent vaccine.
      In a recent WHO-commissioned review of DTP based on ten observational studies, it was concluded that, “the findings were inconsistent, with a majority of the studies indicating a detrimental effect of DTP, and two studies indicating a beneficial effect. All of the studies were regarded as being at risk of bias, so the confidence in the findings was rated as very low according to the GRADE criteria.”

  24. If antibodies are not shown to play a causal role in preventing re-infection, does that say about vaccines whose efficacy is judged by antibody levels? (or is it not done with antibody levels?)

      1. And how do we know that the symptoms are due to covid instead of some other ILI?

        If there wasn’t any viral culturing done, I refuse to believe a word of it.

        Raoult may have made some minor mistakes early on, but at least he cultured virus to nail things down.

  25. DR Sebastian
    My wife (deceased prior to Covid) had factor v Leiden and Pro Thombin Geen Variant and had a course if Heparin in order to achieve a successful pregnancy.
    Interested in your opinion if this might have been a risk factor if she had lived to take the AZ vacinne?

  26. I enjoy reading your publications. I ask you to please read the analysis of Peter Doshi of the British Medical Journal, the Pfizer and Moderna study results, and the recent analysis posted by Will Jones on There is a demonstrable spike in infections in the first two weeks after the first injection. These ‘cases’ were ignored in the calculations of the Pfizer and Moderna relative efficacy calculation. I remain unconvinced that vaccines provide much benefit given long term side effects remain completely unknown.

    1. The paper discussed in is published at
      There is clearly something unexpected and unexplained in this paper, as the baseline rate of infection is taken as those more than 21 days before vaccination. The rate of infection in the 21 days before vaccination fell to 28% of the baseline. No explanation of why there is this sudden drop in infections approaching vaccination.
      Be that as it may, the claim that there is a spike in infections after vaccination cannot be accepted. There is an increase shown, but the confidence intervals overlap. Therefore it cannot be stated with certainty that this is a real increase or a statistical artifact.

    2. Reading the comments for Doshi’s second article–so many lab and clinical professionals are unaware of important research surrounding the prevalence of false negatives and the Wuhan study on asymptomatic spreading.

      Important questions about viral culturing and the impact of false negatives on arm assignment upon recruitment aren’t even mentioned.


    3. I made the following comment (which will almost certainly not be published) on Peter Doshi’s blog on BMJ in response to The Scrutinizer, who wrote,

      “PCR threshold is not the issue bc if anyone uses more than 37 cycles (this is max), then they don’t get a clean band rather they get a lot of unwanted bands on the gel that makes the results unreadable. As far as i know X37 is what was used.”

      “If influenza is being tested at 27 Ct and covid is being tested at 37 Ct, the chances are 1/(2^10) that a correct covid diagnosis will be made because flu and mild covid have essentially identical symptoms. Since virus isn’t being cultured, we have no idea about the true prevalence of covid or influenza so we can’t rely on current beliefs about prevalence. There’s no getting around using identical Ct’s for influenza and covid and sampling by culturing viruses.”

      Of course, PCR is being run in the States at 40 Ct.

      1. Just like everything in the Covid universe, the PCR test creates more confusion than clarity.
        It, too received only an EUA by the FDA. So now the country has an EUA test,EUA therapeutics and worse yet EUA vaccines. EUA means safe and maybe effective. Does anybody not feel to some degree that we all guinea pigs?
        Dr. Richard Fleming tells a joke about two rats. One says to the other, “are you going to get that Covid vaccine”? The other responds. “No ,I think I will wait until the humans get it first.”
        Welcome to the New Normal.

  27. What can we say about expected protection over a longer time period than 6 months for prior infection vs vaccination? And how long can we expect to have a protection? Can we make any reliable estimates regarding this?

    I understand that no studies of covid-19 can tell at this point, but could we maybe estimate it from other corona viruses? If I remember correctly prior infection with some other corona viruses would likely provide you with a decent protection for a couple of years, at least. Can we expect something similar with covid-19 or is it impossible to tell?

    And given that the virus mutates, does it change anything regarding the expected protection?

  28. Dr Sam Bailey is one of the small number of honourable Doctors telling the truth about this covid farce.
    In this presentation she expolres the 1918 Spanish flu and how researchers from that era were unable to infect healthy people from those that were infected and ill, no matter what they did.
    The researchers even took swabs from the throats and nasal passages of the infected and contaminated the healthy and were unable to spread the disease.
    I am coming to the conclusion that the claims of the virologists and human to human transmission are yet more lies.

    1. I have looked a couple of her videos. They are superficially persuasive, but do not provide any convincing evidence for her statements.
      The evidence she cites to deny human to human transmission in the Spanish flu epidemic after WW1 is taken from a book by a journalist, who described some uncontrolled poorly conducted rather amateur investigations. There is no way these can be verified and would not provide proof even if correct as described.
      Her second line of argument is that the current studies have not found any direct evidence of human to human transmission. This is correct; evidence of covid 19 virus in aerosols is widely found, and this is taken as the main method of transmission, something widely accepted to occur in many diseases.
      The problem is that there is realistically no possible method of demonstrating human to human transmission by aerosols. You would have to label the virus in some way or to have a virus with a unique genetic fingerprint, show this was in an aerosol from this patient, and then another patient had become infected with this unique virus from this aerosol. This is just not realistic to expect this to be possible. Common sense has to be used. She basically is claiming the absence of evidence as evidence of absence.
      The other main problem I have with her videos is that she is plugging her own book on these videos. This is a clear conflict of interest.

      1. ‘Virus Mania’, the book she’s plugging – who else is plugging what and against what costst and what are the conflicts of interests of a lot of scholars in the field, say in the case of Drosten and who cares about those? – offers (references to) evidence.
        I’m not in a position to judge the evidence, but I’m not an irrational idiot too.
        I read most of it.
        The authors adhere to the ‘field’/’terrain’/’milieu’ theory, i.e. the idea that not the virus – they state there never has been a properly isolated sars vov 1, sars cov 2, mers, HIV virus – causes the problem/illness, but the environment in which it enters. Which seems very reasonable to me given the the IFR on covid19, for instance.
        The authors argue against what they call a (19th/20th century) monocausal perspective, i.e. the idea that one pathogen causes one disease (what identifies covid 19 as covid19? what identifies AIDS as AIDS when all the symptoms are accounted for in other diseases?) for which we have one treatment, i.c. a vaccin and they, for obvious reasons, link it to the enormous interest the industry has in promoting this perspective.
        Other obvious attacks on the immunesystem – drug use, toxins, bad nutrition, bad hygiene, …..- are completely neglected as seems obvious in their account of for instance the socalles AIDS pandemic.

        How many of the current investigations are “uncontrolled poorly conducted rather amateur investigations”?

        I try to rely on my common sense, people like Sebastian are a true help. Sam Bailey too, as Ivor Cummins, Malcolm Kendrick are.

      2. ‘The problem is that there is realistically no possible method of demonstrating human to human transmission by aerosols. ‘

        How about healthy test subjects coming into close proximity to people diagnosed as having influenza and seeing if the healthy became infected and ill after being exposed to the aerosols generated by the coughing and sneezing?
        This could all be done under controlled conditions perfectly easily.

        My wife was ill with covid-19 at the start of this debacle, she had a hacking cough for about three weeks and was signficantly unwell for six weeks. Despite being in close proximity to her no one else in our family became ill, not even a sniffle, how is that?

      3. Conflict of interest is an interesting point. You have SPI-B promoting panic, which gives them power and prestige and almost certainly increased funding. You have the media promoting panic, which gives them increased clicks and ad revenue. You have the CDC promoting panic for the same self-serving reasons that SPI-B does. (Is it true that the CDC went from $8 billion in 2019 funding to $56 billion in 2020 funding?)

        Raoult, Heneghan, Tyson, Procter, and Zelenko seem to have the least amount of conflict of interest other than attracting patients, which is pretty standard for physicians.

      4. The assertion that because a virus can’t be isolated it doesn’t exist is a logical fallacy called the false test. SARS-COV-2 can be cultured and PCR can be used to prove that the virus has replicated in the cell culture.

        Another logical fallacy is claiming that a person is a total fraud because that person has made misstatements or is hawking nonsense. Dr. Bailey may have made correct statements about various scams being pushed by public health authorities along with selling a book pushing the terrain theory.

        This is a variety of the amalgamation error where facts are squished together in order to hide important differences in claims or distribution of various things. For example, saying that covid has 99.7% survival rate is close to being accurate for those under 40, but wildly inaccurate for those over 80.

      1. She is a physician – you could take a look at her credentials and/or discuss the line of argumentation, or not, that’s up to you. You’re being an asshole if you leave it at this.
        I just finished Rushworhs book.
        A lot of the debunking that is done here is very much in line with Bailey’s. The method is quite similar: don’t read the introduction and the conclusions of published material, but concentrate on the method and evaluate the evidence that is given as far as is possible. Both favor evidence based medicine.
        Both think it is obvious an emphasis on obvious measures like improving metabolic health, exercise, compensation for vitamine D deficiency etc. would make far more sense than the devastating policy of ever stricter lockdowns.
        Well, I don’t really see the fraud.

  29. This government study only proves that covid-19 is a massive nothing burger.
    The NHS (claps hands bangs a saucepan) is supposed to be the most terrifyingly deadly place to work because of the super deadly highly infectious covids that lurk there yet over 2,971,436 days of exposure there were only 1,369 cases out of 17, 383 people.

    How many of those 1,369 died, would the answer be anywhere near to the number zero?

    ‘The covid positive cohort contained 8,278 participants at the beginning of the study, while the covid negative cohort contained 17,383.’

    ‘Over the course of 2,971,436 days of follow-up in the covid negative group, there were 1,369 cases of symptomatic covid-19.’

  30. In a sane world, the experience of the passengers aboard the Diamond Princess and what was learned from that should have settled the entire affair then and there. Instead most of that data was totally ignored or discounted as various “experts” at WHO, CDC, assorted universities, and the lovely propaganda videos from China of people dropping down dead in the street were allowed to take over and panic ensued. Now we still have governments deciding that they are dealing with a horrific disease that must be dealt with harshly to prevent everyone from dying! There has not been any excess death over 2018 or 2019, a number that seems to be recorded faithfully by the people who count such things. How can Covid have been so horrible if there is no excess death? Where is the emergency?

  31. A question not a comment. What is your assessment of “long COVID?” It seems to be the most recent attempt to stoke fears.

    1. Long Covid is a real post viral syndrome manifested by cellular immune dysfunction with continuation of cytokine activation by T cell modulation. Dr. Bruce Patterson an immunopathologist involved with HIV has a great discussion on this video to talk about the MOA involving Rantes and the CCR5 receptor, persistent cytokine activation and treatment.

  32. I’m not sure the results are surprising to me! I think the study of healthcare workers is a good way to start, but if they are working with covid positive patients and are negative at the beginning and negative at the end, might there be some underlying reason they are immune? I guess that is hard to measure. And knowing what we know now about exercise and obesity in regards to the disease, was there any data collected as to the participants other health factors?

  33. Sorry if I have missed a discussion on this, but I would love to hear your views Sebastian on how much you think vaccines stop transmission. I get the science that they can help people develop less severe Covid symptoms, but wonder how much they stop transmission. Thanks for all the brilliant material/blogs you’re publishing – I have recommended your book to many friends and family members

    1. Thanks! The evidence on how much they stop transmission is still limited. Logically, they should make a person less infectious by causing the immune system to react to the virus more quickly, thus decreasing viral shedding.

  34. Many thanks for your swift response – I also wonder if there is a concern that as vaccinated people may be less symptomatic if they contract Covid – if out and about in public, although they will be shedding less virus, they may not know they have Covid and therefore being less careful. Just a random thought and of course, pretty impossible to assess..

  35. .Hi Sebastian, would that logic transfer to healthy people with good immune responses and/or those who show no symptoms (presuming that is because their immune system is dealing with the infection to a degree they don’t get ill).

    Would these people be less likely to transmit for that same reason?

    Thanks for all your work and the thread here is very informative.

    1. Generally, with respiratory viral infections, people are at their most infectious just before developing symptoms and just after developing symptoms. After that, infectiousness wanes quickly.

      With covid it has been shown that people with asymptomatic infection are much less infectious than people with symptomatic infection, although people with asymptomatic infection are still able to spread the infection to others.

      1. Cheers Sebastian, there does seem to be a sentiment or view going around, seems a bit of a straw man, saying that it is not true that asymptomatic people can’t spread viruses , where the view would actually be as you stated that they are less infectious, not that it is impossible.

        That starw manning seems to be very common “young people can get Covid equally, it does not discriminate” this is a straw man against the fact that covid seems to almost exclusively have serious consequences for the old, sick and infirm. No one really uts forward that the young can’t get it.

        Thanks again

      2. Dr. Rushworth,

        When you said “asymptomatic”, did you mean people who never showed even mild symptoms of covid or people who eventually showed symptoms?

        I will certainly agree that _pre_symptomatic covid can be infectious, but it seems to me that the Wuhan study of asymptomatic cases showed no evidence of spread. Or has new evidence emerged that I missed?

      3. I would say that the Wuhan study is not evidence of anything. The number of ”cases” found in that study was so low that they were likely all false positives, and that’s assuming we even choose to trust any ”data” coming out if China. The US marine corps study showed that people who are and remain asymptomatic can pass the infection to others.

      4. Now that it’s mentioned, just what are the symptoms and sign of this disease called Covid-19, Sebastian? What is the differential diagnosis that distinguishes it from influenza or pneumonia? Is it only a question of degree of these common symptoms, or something else? One can have no symptoms whatsoever and considered oneself to be asymptomatic, but when does one know that one is pre-symptomatic and and a ‘biological hazard’ to others, if that stage actually is possible?

        For example, I have carried the simplex and zoster viruses for decades and am asymptomatic until I feel the start of those symptoms and know that I now am “symptomatic” and don’t kiss anyone, for instance. One would think that, with everyone in the world working on this pandemic, we’d know a bit more about this disease and be beyond the execrable PCR test. Unless, of course, those sceptics who maintain that there is no difference are right. I’m not being facetious, but I do think we should know by now, and if we don’t, something is wrong.

      5. The symptoms are largely identical between covid and influenza and other seasonal respiratory viruses. Covid appears to cause a change in the sense of taste and smell more frequently than influenza, but other than that the symptoms are very similar. Covid and influenza also look similar on a CT scan. Bacterial pneumonia looks different on CT.

      6. The marine corps study relied on questionaires. Marines will lie about stuff like that because it doesn’t matter to them. And the researchers didn’t culture virus to get a confidence interval for PCR. The “transmissions” could have been flu–in fact, they were much more likely to have been flu.

        The Wuhan researchers cultured virus and found no evidence of asymptomatic transmission. But your point is well-taken that we should be skeptical of any population survey out of China.

        Picking between Wuhan and the marine corps study, the choice is obvious. We still don’t know if asymptomatic transmission occurs. But we haven’t heard any hoofbeats yet, so the smart money does not worry about zebras.

        It’s good to be certain what you are uncertain about and to know the impact of uncertainty.

    2. I can say that both my wife and I have had natural immunity since contracting and recovery from the Covid.
      We nursed my covid-positive elderly mother and not once showed any signs of sickness.
      In fact we rained covid-negative throughout and took no precautions around my mother.

  36. Thanks Sebastian – that makes good sense and such a relief to have a space that these ideas/discussions can be aired in a rational/evidence informed way

  37. Thanks again for an itneresting read Dr Rushworth.

    I don’t understand how this even became a question. Identified cases of reinfection have been so rare, and related viruses (ie: SARS) have been shown to provoke durable (and cross-reactive) immunity.

    Have you seen this study about rhinovirus blocking SARS-CoV-2 replication by the way? Any thoughts on it? Seems important.

    1. Interesting. That could explain why many other respiratory viruses have ”disappeared” over the last year, if you look at it the other way around, as an existing sars-cov-2 infection preventing other viruses from getting a foothold. Would explain why other seasonal respiratory viruses often become less prevalent during pandemics.

      1. To my mind it has implications for NPIs. If kids were not in school spreading the usual common cold causing viruses, and bringing them home, SARS-CoV-2 will have had less competition. And if mostly non-deadly rhinovirus is capable of neutralising SARS-CoV-2, NPIs that suppress all respiratory viruses may well have made individual epidemics worse.

      2. Re one infection preventing others…

        What percent of the population is infected with covid in a given month?

        Maybe this might happen at peak infection, but I don’t see how this could happen otherwise with any significant impact. So you might see a dip in non-covid infections from 15 days prior to covid peak until 15 days after.

        Then there’s the problem with overcycled covid PCR relative to other ILI PCR that would inflate covid numbers relative to other ILI’s (something like 1000x).

    2. Hmmm… well yes, I have the same inquiry. I caught the bug last December and, as with other viral infections, eg flu, I assumed I now had lasting immunity. As an example, I caught a particularly virulent version of flu in NYC in 1975, and not only have I NEVER caught flu since (45+ yrs), I don’t catch colds either, so clearly my immune system is doing what it’s been designed to do for the last few million years and doing it very effectively (as long as I take care of myself, the right food, vit D etc, I live in London).

      Forgive my cynicism, but couldn’t the ‘question’ of lasting immunity be very closely connected to selling the fake vaccines to us, OVER and OVER again? Worse still, there appear to be genuine dangers associated with being ‘vaccinated’ if one ALREADY has some immunity through infection, as from what I’ve read, getting ‘vaccinated’ can trigger an over-the-top immune reaction.

  38. Dr. Rushworth,

    I found this on point Jan. 2021 Nature article about preexisting immunity in unexposed people showing that preexisting immunity is superior to any vaxxes except maybe a deactivated virus.

    First 81% of _unexposed_ people have some level of immunity to covid. Second, the immunity is also to the nucleocapsid part of the virus, not merely to the spike protein. The more effective immune response is _not_ merely to the spike protein, but also to the nucleocapsid–the more effective T cell response is a _diverse_ response. So, yes, natural immunity is far superior to the vaxxes.

  39. I can say from personal experience that having had the disease or having gotten the vaccine results in nurses being less careful when working with covid-positive patients. This could slightly skew the results, if nurses exposed themselves more, believing themselves immune, while unvaccinated/never covid nurses continued to use strict precautions.

  40. Dear Sebastian,
    Would you consider it a valid argument that the risk of shorter study time (compared with the duration time of studies for every vaccine that’s safe and useful) concerning all Covid19-vaccines is somehow “evened out” by the bigger amount of people they had available for testing at once? Is it somehow reasonable to say “well, they had much less time but much more testing, so most/many of the risks are covered as usual”?
    Best regards

    1. Well, not really. Study time and number of participants tell you two different thing. A short term study with a lot of participants can give a good picture of the prevalence of short term side effects, but won’t tell you anything about longer term side effects.

  41. another interesting topic is comparing the health risks of Covid with the health risks of these new injections. Many countries push even for children to be injected. According to the 124. Deutscher Ärztetag 04.05. – 05.05.2021, in Germany they aim to tie the opening of schools and kindergardens in autumn to kids being vaccinated (Quote from the minutes: “Without a timely vaccination, especially for younger children, a new lockdown for this age group will lead to further serious negative consequences for children’s psychological development. Families with children can only regain equal participation in society if they have vaccinated children. “)
    I think that besides being totally unnecessary, such decisions may be a crime towards children’s health. Therefore we urgently need accepted sources to show the dangers and risks with the new vaccines, especially for children and younger people.

  42. This study doesn’t seem to account for the confounding factor of different social policies like lockdowns, social distancing, masks or no masks, amount of contact with family members and THEIR behaviors, etc. We have no idea if these people actually experienced similar levels of exposure out in the world. Maybe people who already had COVID were like my husband and were extra extra cautious afterwards not to get exposed, because it was so bad they were more scared of it, and really really didn’t want to get it again, whereas maybe people who were never exposed to it are less cautious because half of them aren’t even sure if it really even exists. Or maybe it’s the opposite – maybe the previously exposed group were generally less socially cautious people, about exposing themselves to it, and that’s why they had gotten it in the first place, and then having had it didn’t change their level of caution at all, or maybe after having had it they were even less cautious because they figured they had natural immunity. Unless you’re sure the people in the 2 groups are following similar protocols in terms of mitigating exposure or not, all the results are meaningless. However it’s true we need to be having more meaningful long term studies on ALL of it.

  43. That is one thing that makes no sense; why not test people first for anti-bodies? If they are present, then no “inoculation” required.

    “Abundance of caution” is a phrase that should be outlawed!

    People die every day on the highways for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the national speed limit on ALL roads be lowered to 7 MPH… just an “abundance of caution” approach. Most of us will starve to death given that food would spoil during transit, but traffic deaths would most certainly decline!

  44. Sebastian – I would welcome your comments on this observational study currently being cited by my GP practise here in New Zealand to support their claims about the Pfizer jab “doctors and nurses highly recommend that you have the vaccination when you are offered it, it is very safe and very effective. Our team could not wait to get the vaccine and jumped at the opportunity when it finally arose for us. Whilst we are now protected, we are looking forward to our local community being safely vaccinated too. We would love to wave goodbye to our red clinic and face masks!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *