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Instagram Post Missing Context About Israeli Study on COVID-19 Natural Immunity – FactCheck.org

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An Instagram post highlighted a headline about a non-peer-reviewed study from Israel that found that unvaccinated people previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 had greater immunity against the delta variant than never-infected people fully vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. But the social media post omitted the study’s other finding that one dose of the vaccine enhanced protection for infection survivors.

According to its authors, a study conducted in Israel demonstrated that natural immunity from a prior infection with SARS-CoV-2 provided “longer lasting and stronger protection” against the highly transmissible delta variant than vaccine-induced immunity from two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Some social media users are highlighting that finding — which is far from conclusive — while ignoring that the study also said that previously infected individuals can still benefit from vaccination.

The texastruther Instagram account, for example, posted a screen capture of an Aug. 27 Gateway Pundit headline that says, “New Israeli Study Finds Fully Vaccinated People are at ‘Greater Risk of Hospitalization’ and 13 TIMES MORE LIKELY to Catch Covid-19 Than Those Who Have Recovered and Have Natural Immunity.”

What was not mentioned in the Instagram post — which received more than 4,600 likes on the platform — is that the study found even greater immunity against the delta variant for people who got a single shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and had an infection with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

It’s true that in many cases, natural immunity can provide better protection from certain diseases than immunity from vaccination, as we’ve written before. But we’ve also written about scientific studies that show the benefits of vaccination for those who contracted the coronavirus and then recovered from infection.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that people still get vaccinated regardless of whether they already had COVID-19, because it’s not known how long someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again after recovering from the disease. A small proportion of people who had an infection may not develop much immunity at all.

In addition, experts say that people should not interpret the Israeli study’s findings as an endorsement to intentionally get infected as a way to obtain natural immunity. That would be extremely risky, as more than 633,000 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in the United States alone. Even some who survive an infection experience so-called “long COVID,” which is when symptoms from the disease last for weeks or months.

The retrospective observational study is the largest to compare natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity, according to its authors. It was posted Aug. 25 to the medRxiv preprint server, which means it has not been peer-reviewed and “has not yet been accepted or endorsed in any way by the scientific or medical community.”

A paramedic in Israel administers the third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 24 in Holon. Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP via Getty Images.

Using data on tens of thousands of patients (age 16 and older) from the Maccabi Healthcare Services database in Israel, a team of researchers compared the health outcomes, including infections, symptoms and hospitalizations, of three different groups of people. The analysis included individuals never infected with SARS-CoV-2 who received the two-dose regimen of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, previously infected individuals who had not been vaccinated, and individuals who had an infection and received a single dose of the vaccine.

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Among a group of more than 32,000 people either previously infected or fully vaccinated between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, the authors found a 13-fold increased risk for breakthrough infection with the delta variant as opposed to reinfection. The frequency of either event, however, was still very low, as this was based on 238 breakthrough infections, or infections in fully vaccinated individuals, and 19 reinfections among unvaccinated people who had recovered from a previous bout with the virus.

The authors also found a 27-fold increased risk for symptomatic breakthrough infection after full vaccination as opposed to symptomatic reinfection. That was based on 191 infections in vaccinated individuals and eight in previously infected people.

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Then, when comparing over 46,000 individuals who were fully vaccinated between January and February with the same number of unvaccinated people who were infected at any time between March 2020 and February 2021, the authors discovered about a 6-fold increased risk for breakthrough infection as opposed to reinfection. They also found a more than 7-fold increased risk for symptomatic breakthrough infection than symptomatic reinfection.

The authors said the results “could suggest waning natural immunity against the Delta variant,” which was prevalent in Israel during the study’s follow-up period of June 1 to Aug. 14.

In both comparisons, the fully-vaccinated individuals also had a “greater risk for COVID-19-related-hospitalizations” than those with natural immunity from a previous infection, the study said. There were no COVID-19-related deaths recorded in the study.

Importantly, though, the researchers also found that previously infected people benefited from vaccination, as those who received a single dose of the vaccine were about half as likely (0.53 fold) to be reinfected as those who did not get the shot. The single dose vaccinees also had fewer recorded cases of symptomatic disease (16) than their unvaccinated counterparts (23).

But that part of the analysis was not featured in the Gateway Pundit headline — or its article — which was amplified on social media.

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The Study’s Limitations

Furthermore, the authors of the study acknowledged that it had several limitations.

For one, they said that the analysis only assessed protection from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine “and therefore does not address other vaccines or long-term protection following a third dose, of which the deployment is underway in Israel.” As of Aug. 31, about 62% of Israel’s population was fully vaccinated and about another 6% were only partially vaccinated, according to the University of Oxford-based project Our World in Data.

The authors also said that because they conducted an “observational real-world study,” where polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, screening for the coronavirus was not required, “we might be underestimating asymptomatic infections, as these individuals often do not get tested.”

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The testing aspect was perhaps “the biggest limitation of the study,” according to Natalie Dean, an Emory University biostatistician, who was quoted in an Aug. 26 Science article about the study. “That means, she says, that comparisons could be confounded if, for example, previously infected people who developed mild symptoms were less likely to get tested than vaccinated people, perhaps because they think they are immune,” Science reported.

“Lastly,” the authors of the Israeli study wrote, “although we controlled for age, sex, and region of residence, our results might be affected by differences between the groups in terms of health behaviors (such as social distancing and mask wearing), a possible confounder that was not assessed.”

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The Science article also quoted Charlotte Thålin, a physician and immunology researcher at Danderyd Hospital and the Karolinska Institute, who cautioned that the number of infections and other outcomes on which the comparisons were based were quite “small.”

For instance, the study’s finding that never-infected vaccinees were at higher risk for COVID-19-related hospitalization than the previously infected non-vaccinees was based on no more than about two dozen hospitalizations in either of the comparisons.

In the part of the analysis that compared the outcomes of people previously infected or fully vaccinated in January or February, the study said “nine cases of COVID-19-related hospitalizations were recorded, 8 of which were in the vaccinated group and 1 in the previously infected group.”

In the part of the analysis that looked at individuals who were fully vaccinated in either January or February and unvaccinated people who were infected at some point between March of last year and February of this year, the study said “COVID-19 related hospitalizations occurred in 4 and 21 of the reinfection and breakthrough infection groups, respectively.”

Other scientists have raised additional concerns about the study’s methodologies and conclusions.

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In an extensive Twitter thread, Diego Bassani, an epidemiologist at the Hospital for Sick Children and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, said that the study’s “very large ORs,” or odds ratios, “indicate something could be off with sample selection or response measurement.” He also said the fact that the study matched groups by age could introduce a bias in the results, since the previously infected group only includes those who survived their first infection, whereas the vaccinated group did not.

It’s worth noting that two other studies have come to different conclusions about the relative potency of natural versus vaccine-induced immunity, although each is also subject to its own limitations and is not definitive.

One unpublished paper that has yet to be peer-reviewed, from researchers at Oxford University, found that the protection against any kind of confirmed infection with delta by the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was slightly better than natural infection.

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Another study, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in August, found that unvaccinated residents of Kentucky who were infected with the coronavirus in 2020 were more than twice as likely to become reinfected in May and June 2021, compared with those who were fully vaccinated.

Don’t Try to Get Infected

In any case, experts advise against purposely getting infected in hopes of acquiring some degree of immunity.

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“What we don’t want people to say is: ‘All right, I should go out and get infected, I should have an infection party,’” Michel Nussenzweig, an immunologist at Rockefeller University, told Science in response to the study. “Because somebody could die,” he warned.

And on Twitter, Alessandro Sette of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology wrote that the question is not “should I get COVID or be vaccinated?”

“COVID is associated with high disease burden, risk of death and long-lasting health issues (long COVID), in contrast with the excellent safety profile of vaccination,” he tweeted. “The question is ‘should I get vaccinated even if I previously had covid?’ People that were infected and then vaccinated develop a powerful immune response, called ‘hybrid immunity’, which exceeds what is seen with either natural infection or vaccination.”

That’s in line with what the preprint study from Israel also found.

Editor’s note: SciCheck’s COVID-19/Vaccination Project is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control over FactCheck.org’s editorial decisions, and the views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation. The goal of the project is to increase exposure to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines, while decreasing the impact of misinformation.

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Sources

Gazit, Sivan. et al. “Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections.” medRxiv.org. 25 Aug 2021.

Pouwels, Koen. et al. “Impact of Delta on viral burden and vaccine effectiveness against new SARS-CoV-2 infections in the UK.” medRxiv.org. 24 Aug 2021.

Cavanaugh, Alyson. “Reduced Risk of Reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 After COVID-19 Vaccination — Kentucky, May–June 2021.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 13 Aug 2021.

Wadman, Meredith. “Having SARS-CoV-2 once confers much greater immunity than a vaccine—but vaccination remains vital.” Science. 26 Aug 2021.

Conradson, Julian. “New Israeli Study Finds Fully Vaccinated People are at “Greater Risk of Hospitalization” and 13 TIMES MORE LIKELY to Catch Covid-19 Than Those Who Have Recovered and Have Natural Immunity.” Thegatewaypundit.com. 27 Aug 2021.

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Jaramillo, Catalina. “Vaccines Benefit Those Who Have Had COVID-19, Contrary to Viral Posts.” FactCheck.org. 23 Apr 2021, updated 23 Aug 2021.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination. Cdc.gov. Accessed 31 Aug 2021.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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