Sen. Rand Paul Takes Heat for Refusing to Get Vaccine After Already Being Infected with Virus

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Posted: May 23, 2021 8:30 PM
Sen. Rand Paul Takes Heat for Refusing to Get Vaccine After Already Being Infected with Virus

Source: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a doctor, is likely to keep getting under the skin of the COVID police for refusing to get vaccinated, as he's already contracted the virus. The senator called into John Catsimatidis' radio show on Sunday morning. 

The entire clip is worth listening to, but what people are noticing is Paul's following exchange. Castimatidis asked the senator if employees should be "compelled" to have the vaccine. Sen. Paul provided his insight on that:

You know, I think medical decisions in a free society, each individual assumes their own risk, and the thing is, if someone chooses not to be vaccinated, and you are vaccinated, they're not a risk to you, they're taking a risk for themselves. So I think really medical decisions should be private. 

In fact we used to all believe that. There's a law called HIPAA that really says we're really not supposed to pry into the affairs, the medical affairs, of our employees, so I think really in the end we need to have a little bit more of a relaxed atmosphere here, because I think people, particularly on the left, they're saying 'oh, I could never go to a restaurant if someone next to me wasn't vaccinated.' It's like well it shouldn't matter to you at all. 

If you've been vaccinated you're protected and that's their business if they have a religious or philosophic reason, maybe they just think the pandemic's over and don't want to get vaccinated, or maybe they're like me. I already had it, I mean, should they force people to get vaccinated who had COVID and survived? They would first have to prove that the vaccine is better than being infected. I'm not saying that it's wise to get infected on purpose, but a lot of us got infected whether we wanted to or not, about 100 million of us got infected. And I think that we should have a choice whether we get a vaccine or not because frankly all the studies show that I have just as good of immunity as the people who've been vaccinated. 

Now in a year's time if people say 'oh, people that have had it naturally are getting infected a lot more than people who've been vaccinated,' it's--I may change my mind. But until they show me evidence that people that've already had the infection are dying in large numbers, or being hospitalized or getting very sick, I just made my own personal decision that I'm not getting vaccinated because I've already had the disease and I have natural immunity now. 

But that should be my--you know in a free country, you would think people would honor, you know, the idea that each individual would get to make their medical decisions and it wouldn't be big brother coming in telling me what I have to do. Are they also gonna tell me I can't have a cheeseburger for lunch? Are they gonna tell me I have to eat carrots only, and cut my calories? All of that is probably good for me, but I don't think Big Brother oughta tell me to do it. 

While NBC tweeted and Allan Smith wrote in his subheadline that "The CDC recommends that those who have been previously infected get vaccinated because experts are not certain how long natural immunity lasts," anyone who listened to Paul's response would know that he'd be open to changing his mind if there was compelling evidence for him to.

Smith did not include Paul is open to changing his mind about the vaccine. He did write:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that those who have been previously infected get vaccinated because experts are not certain of how long natural immunity lasts.

Paul was the first known senator to contract the virus when he tested positive in March 2020.

His comments come at a time when vaccine demand has fallen with roughly 60 percent of American adults having so far received at least one dose.

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Paul for months has said his natural immunity makes it so getting a vaccine is unnecessary, though scientists say the evidence around long-lasting natural immunity is murky.

A steadfast opponent of Covid mitigation measures and mask mandates, Paul has repeatedly clashed at Senate hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, arguing over topics from herd immunity to the origins of the virus.

Who has provided promising information about such immunity? Dr. Fauci's own National Institutes of Health (NIH). "Lasting immunity found after recovery from COVID-19" was published on January 26. The "At a Glance" noted that "The results provide hope that people receiving SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will develop similar lasting immune memories after vaccination." 

Further:

After people recover from infection with a virus, the immune system retains a memory of it. Immune cells and proteins that circulate in the body can recognize and kill the pathogen if it’s encountered again, protecting against disease and reducing illness severity.

This long-term immune protection involves several components. Antibodies—proteins that circulate in the blood—recognize foreign substances like viruses and neutralize them. Different types of T cells help recognize and kill pathogens. B cells make new antibodies when the body needs them.

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The research was funded in part by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and National Cancer Institute (NCI). Results were published on January 6, 2021, in Science.

The researchers found durable immune responses in the majority of people studied. Antibodies against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which the virus uses to get inside cells, were found in 98% of participants one month after symptom onset. As seen in previous studies, the number of antibodies ranged widely between individuals. But, promisingly, their levels remained fairly stable over time, declining only modestly at 6 to 8 months after infection.

Virus-specific B cells increased over time. People had more memory B cells six months after symptom onset than at one month afterwards. Although the number of these cells appeared to reach a plateau after a few months, levels didn’t decline over the period studied.

Levels of T cells for the virus also remained high after infection. Six months after symptom onset, 92% of participants had CD4+ T cells that recognized the virus. These cells help coordinate the immune response. About half the participants had CD8+ T cells, which kill cells that are infected by the virus.

While it was noted that "the details of this immune response and how long it lasts after infection have been unclear. Scattered reports of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 have raised concerns that the immune response to the virus might not be durable," I think Sen. Paul can be trusted to make an informed decision about if and when he will get the vaccine should that actually become clear that that protection is no longer there.

Findings from a study published in Science on February 5, "Immunological memory to SARS-CoV-2 assessed for up to 8 months after infection," noted that "these results show that durable immunity against secondary COVID-19 disease is a possibility for most individuals."