Are the antiVaxers already relatively immune?

As delta, omicron and god knows what other Greek letter variant of the pandemic virus marches through our population, it is time to find out how many of the unvaccinated have actually been infected asymptomatically.  It could well be most of them.  Studies done July 2020, a year and a half ago in New York State (before we even had vaccines) showed high levels of antibodies to the virus.

Do distinguish what an antibody to the virus means from a positive PCR or antigen test.  A positive antibody test means you’ve been infected with the virus at some point — almost certainly it’s long gone (the footprint of the bear is not the actual bear — sounds like Zen).  A positive antigen or PCR test means that the virus is within you now.

At a clinic in Corona, a working-class neighborhood in Queens, more than 68 percent of people tested positive for antibodies to the new coronavirus. At another clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, that number was 56 percent. But at a clinic in Cobble Hill, a mostly white and wealthy neighborhood in Brooklyn, only 13 percent of people tested positive for antibodies.

Note the date — July of 2020.   Clearly most of these people did not require hospitalization.

So it’s time to look for antibodies in the never vaccinateds (there is no point in looking at the already vaccinated as they should have them).  If the never vaccinated antibody rate is as high as I think it is (>80%), it’s time to stop the lockdowns, the maskings, and the school closures.  Why — because they’ve already been infected and fought off the virus.

It is clear that vaccination will not keep you out of the hospital.

At the end of 25 January the state of Massachusetts had 2,617 people in the hospital with COVID19, 405 in the ICU and 248 intubated.  Half of them are described by the department of Health are described as ‘fully vaccinated’  (which just means 2 shots as of their definition of September 2021 — clearly this should be updated).   Probably almost all of these are with omicron.

Although this is bad, it represents a drop from 3,192, 466 and 290 just a week ago.

I doubt that such a study will be done, but it would be useful.

Addendum  Science 28 January 2022  p. 387.  Well how wrong could I be . “A serosurvey he led in Gauteng province, home to one-quarter of South Africa’s population, showed close to 70% of unvaccinated people carried SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the start of the Omicron wave. In the next survey, he expects that number to have gone up to at least 85%, a level that should prepare South Africa for a post-Omicron future.”

Second Addendum 28 January 2022 — Here’s a link to (and a bit more about)  the paper on which the proceeding paragraph was based — It’s not peer-reviewed yet, but it’s from the S. African Medical Research Council, so it is likely to be valid.

The serosurvey was recent (22 October – 9 December 2021) and just before omicron hit the country.   Only 1,319 of the 7,010 people in the study were vaccinated.  An amazing 70% of the unvaccinated were seropositive (had antibodies to the pandemic virus).  As (not quite expected) the vaccinated had a higher seropositive rate (93%) but I thought it would be higher.

This is exactly the sort of study carried out in New York, where the testers went out and grabbed people to get a sample of what was actually going on in the population at large which makes it highly likely to be valid.  We should do a similar study in the USA.

What would really be terrific (but I don’t think it exists yet) would be a test for antibodies to omicron which distinguishes them from antibodies to older SARS-CoV-2 variants.

There is some evidence that vaccination protects against severe infections with omicron, so leave that to the unvaccinated, and leave the rest of us alone.

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  • M.Striker  On February 3, 2022 at 1:08 pm

    A while back (July?), I was comparing covid-2 infections plus vaccinations vs an 80% innocuous model (80% unnoticed). (At that point, breakthrough infections seemed, from what I could find outside of paywalls, to be in the % of % range.) By early July, the numbers showed that 101%+ of the U.S. had some form of covid exposure (illness/vaccine). Even allowing for some overlap gave 90% exposure. Still, it seemed likely we would see continued growth in numbers going forward (unlikely for an evident trend to just stop outside of pure math). So, I adjusted my model downward, to 75%. (Sans uncommon or common breakthrough infections, overlap exclusion required that.)

    My point is that we may be seeing glimpses of reinfection by the various variants. (Do we track reinfection of survivors?) The evident “30%-ish of hospitalized are vaccinated” points to large numbers of breakthrough cases.

    (Apologies for text errors – cell phone.)

  • Wilhelm Cody  On February 18, 2022 at 2:13 am

    While most current COVID-19 vaccines will result in antibodies to the spike protein, they will not general antibodies to other antigens. Some assays also look at anti envelope or perhaps nucleoprotein antigens. The presence of antibodies against those antigens would indicate infection by the virus itself.

    • luysii  On February 18, 2022 at 6:45 pm

      Certainly true in theory, and such antibodies would be useful in screening for infection (if they were less complicated than PCR), but how available and easy to use are they?

    • Wilhelm Cody  On February 20, 2022 at 2:18 pm

      According to Table 1 at, published November 2021, there were at least 9 commercially available tests that react with antibodies against Sars-CoV-2 nucleocapsid antigens. These include tests from Abbott, Bio-Rad, and Roche, so such tests are readily available, certainly to researchers.

      This paper from April, 2021 used an test for anti-nucleocapsid protein to investigate stability of this immune response in health care workers. The antibody levels were fairly stable over at least 3 to 4 months.

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