A video is circulating on the internet in which Vladimir Zelenko, a man whom Verificat has previously disproved, has claimed before the rabbinical court in Jerusalem that "the naturally-induced immunity of someone who has had covid is a billion times more effective" than that obtained by vaccination is FALSE. This is FALSE. Although there is evidence that immunity acquired through natural infection could last a lifetime, studies show that it is also more heterogeneous than vaccine-induced immunity, that is, not everyone generates immunity after being infected with covid-19, which is more likely with the vaccine.
"The naturally-induced immunity of someone who has had covid and developed antibodies is a billion times more effective than artificially-induced immunity from vaccination".
The discussion about whether naturally-generated immunity is better or worse than vaccine-generated immunity has been on the table since the first doses were administered earlier this year. This debate is focused on clarifying which protects people more from covid infection: the immunity generated after infection with SARS-CoV-2, or the immunity acquired after inoculation with one of several approved vaccines that learn to identify the Spike protein on the surface of the virus when further infection occurs.
Although the "billion" datum was a rhetorical exaggeration, Zelenko claims that natural immunity is unrivalled by vaccines, but what he means by "most effective" needs to be analysed, which he does not indicate. If he is referring to the number of antibodies the body generates, the available scientific evidence indicates that natural infection response is highly variable (some people do not generate high levels of antibodies, while others do). Vaccine-derived immunity, although only capable of detecting one type of SARS-CoV-2 antigen, is much more homogeneous.
In addition, the immunity (due to the vaccine) is also highly effective in protecting against severe disease and death, with efficacy rates of around 90% in clinical trials conducted by the various pharmaceutical companies producing these vaccines.
A 'pre-print' to be considered with caution
A recent Israeli pre-print (a study that has not yet been peer-reviewed) suggests that natural infection can be more durable than vaccine immunity, which does not mean that it is better to wait to get infected than to get vaccinated. However, as Adelaida Sarukhan, an immunologist and scientific writer at the Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal in Catalan) in Barcelona, told Verificat, these results should be interpreted with great caution, not only because it is a study that has not yet been peer-reviewed, but also because, even if it is true, "we must remember that the risk of ending up in hospital or dying from covid-19 is high, especially in older people or those with chronic diseases".
Hence, it is not a good idea to wait to get infected instead of getting vaccinated, which is also stressed by the authors of the research themselves.
Who is the author of the message?
Vladimir Zelenko is a Jewish doctor based in Manhattan. He became famous within the anti-vaccine and pandemic denialist movement in March 2020 for promoting the ingestion of a cocktail of drugs he called the 'Zelenko protocol', containing hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc sulphate. The combination drew the attention of Donald Trump supporters, then president of the United States, as he admitted to “relying” on this drug as an anti-covid treatment.
Thanks to his fame, his product sold in the thousands and he rose to stardom, according to an article in The New York Times. As we reported in Verificat, the cocktail promoted by Dr Zelenko has not proved to be an effective treatment for covid-19, and vaccines, which were still under research last year, are now part of the reason why deaths from covid-19 are dropping dramatically.
This is not the first time that Verificat dismantles Zelenko’s arguments. On another occasion, the doctor claimed that "for every million children", more than 100 will die from the vaccine. This was a false claim: there is not enough scientific evidence to say that the influenza virus is more dangerous to children than SARS-CoV-2, and there is no evidence to support it.
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