Scientists from the Cleveland Clinic published a study on Tuesday evaluating how patients who had previously contracted the coronavirus were protected against reinfection from the virus by antibodies.
According to News Medical Life Sciences, the study revealed that individuals who previously had the SARS-CoV-2 infection do not get additional benefits from vaccination. The study concluded recommended that COVID-19 vaccines should be prioritized to individuals without prior infection.
The study specifically called out the two FDA approved mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, and the studies that have shown high efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease in clinical trials.
Researchers recognized that the ability to vaccinate a large part of the global population is limited by vaccine supply and therefore the most vulnerable population should be prioritized for the vaccination.
The study was conducted on 52,238 employees at the Cleveland Clinic. A positive RT-PCR test was used to prove a SARS-CoV-2 infection in an individual. Participants received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 and participants were considered vaccinated after 14 days of receiving the 2nd vaccine dose.
Study participants who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 at least 42 days before the vaccination initiation were considered previously infected.
Of the participants, 5 percent had previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. The study revealed that the SARS-CoV-2 infection occurred almost exclusively in participants who were not previously infected and were not vaccinated.
Researchers noted that no significant difference in COVID-19 incidence was observed between previously infected and currently unvaccinated participants, previously infected and currently vaccinated participants, and previously uninfected and currently vaccinated participants.
The participants from these three groups exhibited a significantly lower incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to previously uninfected and currently unvaccinated participants.
99.3 percent of all infections during the study occurred in participants who were not infected previously and remained unvaccinated. In contrast, only 0.7 percent of infections occurred in participants who were not previously infected but were currently vaccinated.
Not a single incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was observed in previously infected participants with or without vaccination.
The study concluded that the COVID-19 vaccination significantly reduced the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in previously uninfected participants but not in previously infected participants. It was also observed that previously infected participants remained protected against COVID-19 for at least 10 months after the symptom onset or a positive test result.
Senator Rand Paul, who is a physician and had previously contracted the virus has refused to get vaccinated citing the antibodies left behind in people who contracted COVID-19.
Sen. Paul tweeted the study Tuesday night and wrote, "Great news! Cleveland clinic study of 52,238 employees shows unvaccinated people who have had COVID 19 have no difference in re-infection rate than people who had COVID 19 and who took the vaccine."
The full study can be read here.