Pop singer Gloria Estefan should have a bone to pick with Dr. Anthony Fauci. In March 2021, she teamed up with him to encourage the Hispanic community to get vaccinated against COVID-19. During the interview, Estefan disclosed that she had recovered from COVID-19 and was working with her doctor to monitor her immune status. Her doctor had told her that she did not need the vaccine because she still had immunity according to regular testing. The exchange is pretty astonishing.
Fauci: How long did they ask you to wait?
Estefan: “They told me three months, but I know for a fact I still have immunity because I’ve gotten regularly tested.”
Fauci: “I would not wait any longer, Gloria. I believe the advantage of getting the boost from the vaccine far outweighs the theoretical possibility that your own existing immunity is going to interfere. We know that the immunity that’s induced by the vaccine in general is more potent than the immunity that’s induced by infection.”
At the time, there were zero studies on relative immunity between recovered and vaccinated immunity. The United States had also experienced a significant wave of infections from late December through January without substantial reports of reinfection among those who recovered earlier in the pandemic.
Further, in October 2020, Dr. Fauci conceded that President Trump had immunity to protect against reinfection after recovering from COVID-19. In an interview with Jake Tapper, Fauci said, “The problem with the word immune is it means different things to different individuals, Jake. If he means that he’s been infected and having been infected and recovered that he will not get infected again, that’s true for a limited period of time. But what we do not know is how long that protection lasts. So, technically speaking, from an immunological standpoint, he has an immune response in him that very likely would protect him from being reinfected.”
In November of 2020, there was already data hinting that the immune response to COVID-19 was durable. The New York Times reported data from research in preprint:
Eight months after infection, most people who have recovered still have enough immune cells to fend off the virus and prevent illness, the new data show. A slow rate of decline in the short term suggests, happily, that these cells may persist in the body for a very, very long time to come.
That research was peer-reviewed and published in Science in February 2021, before Fauci spoke with Estefan. You would think America’s “top infectious disease expert” would be on top of such findings. The conclusion was also consistent with previous research on SARS-CoV-1. Recovered patients demonstrated reactive immunity to the virus 17 years after infection. For those of you keeping score at home, the two SARS viruses are 79% similar and use the same human receptor, ACE-2, to access human cells for replication.
So Fauci recommended that Estefan get vaccinated against the advice of her physician. He encouraged the singer to get a vaccine she didn’t need and may never have needed. Studies from the Cleveland Clinic and Israel confirm this. Neither found a statistically significant difference between the reinfection rates among recovered patients and those who recovered and received vaccinations. A study from Emory University measured the immune system cells eight months after infections, providing a scientific basis for the findings in the observational studies. Researchers noted:
Ahmed says investigators were surprised to see that convalescent participants also displayed increased immunity against common human coronaviruses as well as SARS-CoV-1, a close relative of the current coronavirus. The study suggests that patients who survived COVID-19 are likely to also possess protective immunity even against some SARS-CoV-2 variants.
“Vaccines that target other parts of the virus rather than just the spike protein may be more helpful in containing infection as SARS-CoV-2 variants overtake the prevailing strains,” says Ahmed. “This could pave the way for us to design vaccines that address multiple coronaviruses.”
The study from Israel caused quite a stir. Fauci was asked by Dr. Sanjay Gupta what to tell recovered patients inquiring about the results. Fauci replied, “I don’t have a firm answer for you on that.” Then Fauci again asserted the Israeli study did not conclude with the duration of the immune response. Gupta should have said we know the immunity from the Pfizer vaccine is waning. The Israeli research includes patients who recovered during the entire pandemic. The risk of symptomatic disease was 0.3%. Moderna has also notified the market that the performance of its mRNA vaccine is also declining over time.
Recommended: What’s Your Actual Risk of Dying From COVID?
Fauci told Estefan that “we know” something we had no way of knowing at the time because clinical trials did not include recovered patients. Someone should ask him what his motivation was.
WATCH Fauci then and Fauci now (thanks to Tom Elliott at Grabien for cutting the Fauci interview with Estefan):
Despite admitting he didn't know why previously infected people should get vaccinated, Fauci tells Gloria Estefan — who was earlier infected — she shouldn't listen to her doctor & should instead get vax'ed.
"We know the immunity that's induced by the vaccine .. is more potent" pic.twitter.com/3ftKTmVXGI
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 24, 2021