A new study suggesting vaccination for people who have natural immunity against COVID-19 as added protection is heavily linked to the pharmaceutical industry. The mainstream media while featuring the study have excluded these links that convey a serious conflict of interest.
Background of the Study
Since the government and pharmaceutical industry partnered to rush the development of COVID-19 vaccines, advocates of natural health and skeptics of vaccination and the medical/pharmaceutical industry have argued that natural immunity against COVID-19 is the best defense against the disease. Proponents of vaccines, however, have aggressively pushed vaccination as the only and/or best defense against COVID-19.
Conflicting Studies on Natural vs Vaccine-Induced Immunity
Pro-vaccine sources have been sharing studies to show that vaccines are effective while also attempting to dismiss natural immunity as less helpful or reliable. Earlier this month, Advisory Board – a company acquired by the pharmacy benefit manager Optum – cited a study to argue that natural immunity wanes quickly.
On the contrary, American Institute for Economic Research shared some studies last month to show that natural immunity that one gets by contracting COVID-19 is stronger and more durable than that acquired via vaccination.
New Study on Hybrid Immunity in Science
On October 19, Yahoo News featured a USA Today story that seems to attempt a reconciliation of the two conflicting views on immunity against COVID-19. Instead of is missing or downplaying natural immunity, the story tells readers that natural immunity is good but it’s better when people, who have recovered form COVID, also get vaccinated, thus acquiring hybrid immunity. The story cited a study in the journal Science and wrote:
This combined protection seems to last a long time, according to a new study in the journal Science.
The study cited by the USA Today story was published in the journal Science on October 14, 2021. The study is available in full for free on the journal website.
Conflict of Interest and Links to Pharmaceutical Industry
The study claims to have found that natural immunity by itself is weaker compared to hybrid (natural complemented by vaccination) immunity. But the disclosure of funding and competing interests section, also called conflict of interest, show that the study is heavily linked to the pharmaceutical industry.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which reportedly co-owns the rights to the coronavirus vaccine along with the pharmaceutical companies. Even more direct conflict of interest, something that seriously undermines the study’s independence, objectivity, and reliability, is the study’s funding coming from Moderna and Janssen (more commonly known as Johnson & Johnson), two major pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the COVID-19 vaccines.
The conflict of interest is also visible in the list of researchers who carried out and published the study. As many as eight of the study authors have financial ties of various kinds to the pharmaceutical industry, ranging from consulting fees to research grants. One author, Ian Frank of University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, receives research funding from both Moderna and Janssen – manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccine – while another, E John Wherry, works in consulting/advisory roles for Janssen along with a few other pharmaceutical companies including the famous vaccine manufacturer Merck.