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Natural immunity not as effective as COVID-19 vaccine, new study shows

The unvaccinated have 11.3 times higher risk of dying than the vaccinated, according to data released by the CDC.

NEW ORLEANS — We're learning new information from the CDC about the overwhelming benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

But some people who have been infected in the past, want to know if natural immunity is as good as immunity from a vaccine.

There's brand new statistics out on COVID vaccines.

Let's look first at deaths:

The unvaccinated have 11.3 times higher risk of dying than the vaccinated. The risk of dying was lowest in those vaccinated by Moderna, followed by Pfizer, then Johnson & Johnson.

Here's how your age plays a role:

At highest risk of death: unvaccinated, 65+ years-old.

At lowest risk of death: vaccinated, 18-64 years-old; unvaccinated, 18-29 years-old.

Now let's look at testing positive:

The unvaccinated are at 6.1 times higher risk than the vaccinated when it comes to getting the coronavirus.

The risk of testing positive was lowest with Moderna, then Pfizer, then J&J, but it's much higher without having a vaccine.

Risk by age:

At highest risk of testing COVID positive: Unvaccinated, 12-79 years-old.

At lowest risk of testing COVID positive: Fully vaccinated of any age.

Now that the numbers strongly show the vaccine benefits, what about natural immunity to COVID compared to vaccine immunity.

For that we turned to Dr. Benjamin Springgate of LSU Health, an expert in internal medicine and public health.

When asked if you have natural immunity but are not vaccinated, will you be somewhat more protected than someone who has had neither, he said: “Some people who have been previously infected will have some benefit of immunity for a period of time which is undetermined."

He warns that protection may only be for 90 days in some, because for many, there's no protection from natural immunity.

“We know however based on some studies that have been published, that as many as one in three people don't generate any antibodies at all,” he said.

And a blood test showing you have natural antibodies from the infection does not mean you are protected.

“The antibody tests that were developed for use by the general public really just show have you been exposed," Dr. Springgate said. "End of story.”

So, those antibodies may not be the ones that prevent illness.

People who have natural immunity and get a vaccine have even more protection. And while vaccine immunity can go down too, the booster can bring it back up.

And studies are showing that those who are fully vaccinated and still get the infection, have a much lower risk of getting long-term health problems than those not vaccinated.

For more from the new CDC report, click here.