Republicans and their enablers in right-wing media have been touting protection from natural immunity as a way to go after vaccine mandates, claiming they're unfair to those who have previously had COVID, and the talking point used by Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy on this Sunday's State of the Union on CNN is one we've heard over and over again, usually going unchallenged since they're generally repeating it on Fox "news" or some other GOP propaganda channel.
Tapper asked Cassidy about his state's dismal vaccination rate with half the population remaining unvaccinated. "How can we ever get out of this pandemic if millions of people throughout the country, including Louisiana, continue to refuse to get the vaccine?"
Cassidy responded by telling Tapper that he supports state and local mandates, ignoring the fact that other members of his party across the country have been going after those as well, micromanaging cities and private businesses that have attempted to put health measures in place to control the spread of coronavirus, followed by Cassidy saying this about natural immunity:
CASSIDY: I do not support federal vaccine mandates. That's never been the case before. On a state and local level of business and a school, they have a right to do so. The federal government never has before. And I oppose that, number one. Number two, we should acknowledge -- the medical literature does -- previous infection grants immunity. So, when we speak of statistics, let's also include those who have been previously infected. Now, they may not get -- they may not -- they may still be infected with Omicron, but they're not going to go to the hospital.
And, by the way, we also have to acknowledge that someone who's elderly and vaccinated is at greater risk of death from Omicron than someone who is younger and not vaccinated. So, if we're honest with the American people, I think they will start responding a little bit better.
When Tapper tried to point out that vaccinations provide better protection than prior infections, Cassidy proceeded to lie in response:
TAPPER: I do want to note that, while previous infection does provide some protection against another infection, vaccines, as I'm sure you will agree, provide more protection than having been infected.
CASSIDY: I don't know that. I don't know that.
TAPPER: Well, that's according to the...
CASSIDY: The medical literature suggests that...
CASSIDY: Yes, the medical literature suggests that previous infection is quite -- can be quite as effective as a vaccine.
TAPPER: All right, I have seen CDC studies that suggest otherwise.
Which was followed by Tapper letting Cassidy off the hook and ending the interview after thanking him for his time. While I'm glad he at least pushed back at Cassidy for his assertion, he should have made clear to his audience in no uncertain terms that what Cassidy said was an outright lie.
As Johns Hopkins Medicine published in November, you should still be vaccinated even if you've had a prior COVID infection, and it's the best protection against becoming infected, whether you've already contracted the disease or not.