Recently, California has announced changes to its Blueprint for a Safer Economy. These updates include additional “freedoms” afforded to those who have been vaccinated with no mention of those who have already had and recovered from COVID-19. ICAN has shared the science and the law with California to justify the demand that recovered individuals are treated the same as vaccinated individuals.
On April 13, 2021, the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) announced “Updated Activity & Business Tiers for Fully Vaccinated Persons” which lessens certain restrictions and allows more freedoms for those who have been vaccinated. Subsequently, on April 15, 2021, CDPH shared updated guidance documents focusing on gatherings based on an individual’s vaccination status, again lessening certain restrictions and allowing more freedoms for those who have been vaccinated.
ICAN, though its attorneys, sent a letter on April 28, 2021 to Governor Newsom and the Director of California’s Department of Public Health. This letter explained that there is no compelling or rational reason to treat individuals who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 differently than those that have been vaccinated with regard to COVID-19 related restrictions and freedoms as there is no evidence that an individual previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 is at risk of becoming re-infected and transmitting it to others.
As recently explained by an infectious‐disease physician and professor at the University of California: “Natural immunity after COVID‐19 infection is likely lifelong, extrapolating from data on other coronaviruses that cause severe illness, SARS and MERS.”
ICAN detailed the numerous studies which show that recovered individuals are protected because the human body knows how to develop immunity to newly emerging viruses. These recovered individuals show that they have indeed developed sustained neutralizing antibodies which protect from reinfection and robust T-cell memory to the virus. Another study concluded that, “95% of the [previously infected and recovered] people had at least 3 out of 5 immune-system components that could recognize SARS-CoV-2 up to 8 months after infection.” The study leader commented that they were “hopeful that a similar pattern of responses lasting over time will also emerge for the vaccine-induced responses.” This has not yet been established.
Given that the immunity offered by having had COVID-19 is more efficacious and more robust than from the vaccine, ICAN explained to California that its policy of loosening restrictions for those that have been vaccinated for COVID-19, but not for those that have had COVID-19, is unscientific and illegal. In contrast to having had COVID-19, there is noevidence to prove that the COVID-19 vaccines prevent infection or transmission.
Nonetheless, California’s policy lifts restrictions on individuals that have been vaccinated, despite the lack of proof that these products prevent infection and transmission, while not lifting restrictions on those that have had COVID-19 despite clear proof that having had the virus prevents them from becoming reinfected and transmitting the virus.
Additionally, while the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines (for only the tested strain and not for variants) is considered to be between 72 to 95 percent (depending on COVID-19 vaccine), the efficacy rate of creating immunity after COVID-19 is considered to be almost 100 percent. Therefore, it makes no sense to lift restrictions on the vaccinated (which even after vaccination, 5 to 28 percent of individuals remain susceptible to COVID-19) but not those that have recovered (which have a near 0 percent risk of being susceptible to COVID-19).
ICAN pointed out to California that an estimated 3.6 million individuals in California have had COVID-19. Their immunity is at least as protective as, and likely superior to, that of individuals who are vaccinated.
If it is safe for a fully vaccinated individual to have more freedoms and less restrictions, the same must be true for individuals who have recovered! ICAN demanded that the State of California immediately include those who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 in the same category as those fully vaccinated with regard to the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” and any future COVID-19 related guidance. ICAN will provide any response that is received and will continue to demand that public health authorities’ acts are justified by science and the truth.