U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn and 13 other Republicans this week sent a letter to White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials calling for recognition of natural immunity in the battle to control the spread of COVID-19.
“Science shows protection afforded to individuals with natural immunity is real, robust and durable,” Dunn, a medical doctor who represents Florida's Second Congressional District, said in a statement. “Denying science-based data only contributes to existing confusion, misinformation and mistrust among the American people.”
The letter is addressed to Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The signers called on the officials to recognize natural immunity is “at least equal to vaccination” when making policymaking decisions.
“Indeed, multiple well-respected virologists, biologists, epidemiologists and physicians—including Dr. Anthony Fauci—suspected this from the outset,” the lawmakers wrote. “In addition to these early assumptions by experts, we now have a compelling and growing body of scientific evidence to support this theory.”
Among other footnotes, the letter cites a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that found more than 95 percent of people who recover from COVID-19 had “lasting immunity” up to eight months after infection.
Another recent study found people who have recovered from the virus and then were vaccinated have the highest level of protection against infection—what some scientists call “superhuman immunity.” Research indicates that people with one or the other will experience declining immunity over time, but experts disagree over how much and how fast.
Last month President Joe Biden announced a sweeping vaccine mandate that would affect millions of Americans in both government and private sector jobs. Although parts of that announcement are still in the rule-making process, it has sparked pushback and lawsuits.
Dunn—whose district includes Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist, Suwannee and Columbia counties—has previously spoken out against vaccine mandates, but this week’s letter strikes something of a middle ground between the mandates and some Republican lawmakers who have sought to cast doubt on the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, the letter explicitly endorses the use of vaccines.
“To be clear, we are not recommending against vaccination in any population,” the lawmakers wrote. “The available data and observed outcomes indicate that COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States confer robust protection and substantially reduce the risk of severe outcomes including death—particularly in those with no history of prior infection. It is also clear based on available data, that for the majority of adults, the risks associated with contracting COVID-19 are significantly greater than the known risks from vaccination.”
The letter’s signers include three other Florida congressmen: Reps. Brian Mast, Bill Posey and Daniel Webster. Republican Rep. Kat Cammack, who represents Alachua, Bradford, Union and Clay counties, did not sign the letter.