Natural Immunity, kids and COVID is currently a hotly debated topic. Before I jump into who came on my latest podcast to discuss this, I just want to clarify a few things:
I put Natural Immunity in the title, because that will make the blog more SEO-friendly. So its use here is strictly an SEO decision, because I want people to find the blog. But when I’m working in the field of public health, I try to use the words naturally-acquired immunity instead of natural immunity to underscore that a person needs to be infected with a virus (or some kind of pathogen) and then his/her immune system will respond to that virus and create specific immune cells that will help protect him/her the next time he/she is exposed to the same virus. So there’s a fight involved, and with any fight, there’s a gamble. Some fights are easy and some arent and sometimes it’s hard to predict whether a fight will go well for you. Viruses hijack our cells…sometimes it’s a big fight and sometimes it’s not. I’m making this distinction, because I’ve come across a lot of people who think “just having an immune system” is enough for natural immunity. That’s…like a start, but your immune system DOES need to fight off the invading virus in order to ACQUIRE the protection your body needs to fight off the virus again.
There’s been a ton of talk, debate (and fighting) over natural immunity, kids and COVID. Of course, there’s been a lot of fighting over naturally-aquired immunity, adults and COVID. There are lots of egos involved and people wanting to be right on this issue… a trend I’m sure many of you have picked up on for several issues related to COVID-19. There are also folks who shun discussions around naturally-acquired immunity or natural immunity, kids and COVID, because they view it as a gateway to anti-vaccine land. Sure, there can be a slippery slope there, but, you know, I’ve smoked weed and never done heroin. 😉 My point being: Natural immunity (or Naturally-Aquired Immunity) is an actual scientific topic with actual research behind it. And as long as I’ve worked in public health, going back to my first epidemiology class at NYU, immunity at the population level has always included both naturally-acquired immunity and vaccine-acquired immunity. It’s interesting: the two actually work as teammmates, but you would think, especially scrolling through some Twitter feeds, that the two work against each other. Not so. I think some public health officials present it that way out of fear that people won’t get vaccinated. My belief is that you can master the art of scientific communication and present the topic in an empathic, nonconfrontatial way that show how the two work together. Dare to dream, right? 😉
In my latest episode of Causes or Cures, I chatted with Dr. Tal Patalon, head of Kahn, Sagol, Maccabi (KSM), the Research and Innovation Center of Maccabi Healthcare Services in Israel about her recent study (still in preprint), titled: Naturally-acquired Immunity Dynamics against SARS-CoV-2 in Children and Adolescents, which you can access here. Currently, this is the largest, real-world, observational study looking at this research question during the Delta wave in Israel, with hundreds of thousands of kids and adolescents included in the study. Those are big numbers so I was super happy to have her on the podcast to talk about this.
In the podcast, she will discuss why she was interested in this research question, how she and her team conducted the study, what they discovered, any differences observed between reinfection rates without symptoms vs reinfection with symptoms in kids and adolescents, and since she is also a practicing clinician in Israel, what she is seeing from a clinical perspective and if that coincides with her research findings. An important thing to note: this study was conducted during the Delta wave in Israel. So we can’t apply it to Omicron. However, she mentioned that they are studying Omicron and once those results are published, I will share those results and hopefully she will come back on to discuss them.
Click here to listen to the podcast with Dr. Tal Patalon on natural immunity, kids and COVID.
In addition to this podcast, definitely check out some of the other episodes that might fancy you:
MonkeyPox: An Outbreak Started in Nigeria in 2017 but was Ignored by the Developing World