Fauci’s researchers find better antibody response from natural immunity than Moderna vaccine

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But immunologist cautions both sides read too much into “transient spike” in antibodies to justify their policy preferences.

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”  Psalms 95:6 (KJV) 

A month before America’s top infectious disease bureaucrat conceded that mRNA vaccines offer only short-lived protection against COVID-19, Anthony Fauci’s researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) offered a possible explanation why.

These vaccines target COVID’s spike protein, whereas natural immunity recognizes the whole of the virus, including the nucleocapsid protein that envelops the RNA core.

Among those infected during the “blinded phase” of Moderna’s 30,000-adult vaccine trial, only 40% of those given the vaccine developed anti-nucleocapsid antibodies. The figure was more than twice as high (93%) for those given the placebo.

While higher viral loads were associated with higher likelihood of developing anti-nucleocapsid antibodies, “viral copies at the illness visit did not fully explain the large difference” between vaccine and placebo groups, according to the preprint study, which hasn’t been peer-reviewed.

“[F]or any given viral copy number,” the odds of developing those antibodies were 13.67 times higher for the unvaccinated. A placebo recipient with a mild infection had a 71% chance of developing those antibodies, compared to 15% for a vaccine recipient. The two only start to converge at the highest viral loads.

“While an increase in seroreversion cannot be ruled out, given the short time frame the more likely explanation is a vaccine-induced reduction in seroconversion,” or development of antibodies, the researchers wrote. The study period ended in March 2021, before the Delta and Omicron variants developed.

NIAID’s Biostatistics Research Branch collaborated with Moderna, Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the medical schools of Baylor, Cornell, Harvard and the University of Maryland on the stu…

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