It’s nearly two years into the pandemic and some people are starting to wonder if they should try to get natural COVID immunity by deliberately getting infected.
It’s a shocking thought—imagine telling your March 2020 self that people would be trying to get COVID—but with the omicron surge ripping through the population, people are starting to wonder if getting omicron is inevitable. The number of people with COVID is higher than it’s ever been and people are stressed about finding accurate COVID tests and desperately trying to prolong the life of their masks. We’re all exhausted. Would getting COVID, and therefore boosting your natural immunity, make this all easier?
That question has gotten more relevant in light of a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday. From data collected from 1.1 million cases in California and New York, researchers analyzed the risk of infection and hospitalization among four groups, per CNN: those who were unvaccinated and never had COVID, those who were unvaccinated but did get COVID, those who were vaccinated and never had COVID, and those who got both the vaccine and COVID.
They found that people who had survived a previous COVID infection and been vaccinated appeared to have higher immunity against the virus than those who had been vaccinated alone. But before you run to try to get the virus in search of a boost in natural COVID immunity, vaccination is still the safest path to protecting yourself, the CDC researchers emphasized. “Vaccination remains the safest strategy for averting future SARS-CoV-2 infections, hospitalizations, long-term [symptoms], and death,” the researchers wrote.
Here’s why: The data in this study was collected between May and mid-November—before the highly-contagious omicron variant surfaced in the U.S. and before many people had access to booster shots (which have been shown to significantly improve immunity, as SELF reported). That means health experts don’t have enough information to say how the natural COVID immunity you might gain from an infection would stand up against…