This week Germany announced a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated, saying they will be banned from accessing all but the most essential businesses, such as supermarkets and pharmacies. Under the tightened rules, unvaccinated people can only meet two people from another household, and bars and nightclubs must shut down in areas with a high incidence rate.
That would never succeed in the United States where passions about vaccination run deep, and often divide along partisan lines. And it’s probably not worth the effort. Such is the intensity in the states that on Thursday, a government shutdown was averted despite the willingness of some Republicans to bring services to a halt in a bid to stop President Biden’s vaccine mandates.
And the president seemed to acknowledge the futility of continuing to try to convince some in red or rural states to get vaccinated when he announced a strategy shift away from a singular focus on vaccination and instead to emphasize increased testing.
But maybe there’s an olive branch that could be extended to the unvaccinated that might bridge our divide on the pandemic. Buried in the reporting about Germany’s lock-down limiting the activities of the unvaccinated was this pretty significant caveat: The ban does not apply to those who have recently recovered from COVID-19.
Basically, the lockdown is for those with no anti-bodies, and those who have had COVID are treated the same as those who have been vaccinated. And it’s not just Germany. Here’s something I did not know that might come as a surprise to you, too.
Unlike here in the U.S. – the European Union and other countries have been according to the same privileges to people who had COVID-19 as those who are fully vaccinated.
Among the countries who do:
The United kingdom
And The Vatican.
You are wondering: what does science say? Well… it’s complicated.
According to an October study by the UK’s Office for National Statistics, “two doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines provided a similar level of protection to prior natural infection when the delta variant was dominant.”
And our own CDC concurs. A study dated October 29 says, quote, “available evidence shows that fully vaccinated individuals and those previously infected with SARS-COV-2 each have a low risk of subsequent infection for at least 6 months.”
On the other hand, omicron has presented a new wrinkle. Friday, researchers at the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis at Stellenbosch University, said in a statement: “Population-level evidence suggests that the omicron variant is associated with substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection.”
Microbiologist Simon Clarke of the UK’s University of Reading said: “Omicron has blown a big hole in the controversial argument that we should simply allow the infection to spread in an attempt to create immunity.”
This all raises an interesting question: should prior COVD infection count when it comes to vaccine mandates? Is the science settled? And what do the Europeans know that America does not… or vice versa?