January 21, 2022
MANILA, Philippines — The public should not deliberately get themselves infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in order to get natural immunity against COVID-19, the chairperson of the Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) said Friday.
VEP chair Dr. Nina Gloriani said those who will contract COVID-19 may indeed get natural immunity but stressed that the infection should not be voluntary or deliberate. She added that a “hybrid immunity” may happen after a vaccinated individual contracts COVID-19 and survives.
“Pero ano ang sasabihin ko dyan? Mabuti kung ang breakthrough infection ninyo ay mild hanggang moderate siguro, magkakaroon kayo ng boosting ng immunity, pero kung magiging severe ‘yun, hindi ‘yun maganda, so hindi natin titingnan na magpapa-infect na lang tayo. Hindi po ganun ang nangyayari dapat,” she said at the Laging Handa public briefing.
(But what will I say about that? It could be fine if your breakthrough infection is mild to maybe moderate because you will have a boosted immunity, but if that will be a severe disease, that is not good. So we should not voluntarily get ourselves infected. That should not happen.)
“I don’t think the doctors will say na yes, magpa-expose kayo para magkaroon kayo ng natural immunity. Kung ma-e-expose kayo ay dahil nangyari lamang pero hindi dahil nagexpose kayo talaga, hindi ‘yung sasadyain. Hindi natin gustong mangyari ‘yan kasi hindi natin alam kung ano ang magiging resulta sa inyo,” said Gloriani.
(I don’t think the doctors will say that you should get yourselves exposed to the virus so you can get natural immunity. If you will get exposed, it should happen naturally and not deliberately. We don’t want a deliberate infection because you don’t know what may happen to you.)
Gloriani warned that COVID-19 infection may lead to a severe form of the disease or even death.
“Pwedeng sa isang bata na maganda ang kanyang immunity, general health status, magrerecover siya, mild [lang], pero kapag ‘yung tamaan ay medyo elderly or may immunocompromised condition or comorbidity, baka hindi ‘yan mild but ma-ospital, critical care or mas masahol pa, baka mamatay,” she noted.
(Someone young with good immunity and general health status may recover, but the elderly or immunocompromised individual may be hospitalized for critical care or even die.)
Gloriani’s warning against deliberate infection comes after a new study showed that during the last surge of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant in the United States, people who were unvaccinated but survived COVID-19 were better protected than those who were vaccinated and not previously infected.
The authors of the study, however, warned against depending on infection for protection, considering the higher risks to unvaccinated persons who were not previously infected of hospitalization, long-term impact, and death.