(NewsNation Now) — Though he is not a fan of vaccine mandates, the Trump administration’s COVID-19 testing czar said he understands a controversial decision made by a Colorado hospital.
UCHealth is denying an unvaccinated patient a kidney transplant she needs because it says the data shows a person recovering from the procedure without antibodies to COVID-19 has a 30% chance of dying if they get the virus.
The woman was told she had 30 days to get vaccinated or she could be removed from the list.
Dr. Brett Giroir told Joe Donlon on Wednesday that science may be on the side of the hospital.
“Patients have to be on immunosuppressive drugs, Their T cells and B cells don’t work,” he said on “The Donlon Report;” “And if a doctor provided a kidney transplant to a person who was at risk of COVID, who is not protected, that person could have a 30 or 40% chance of dying. So it’s very, very critical. No doctor wants to send a patient to their death sentence.”
However, the woman said she had COVID-19 in the past, and she believed if she got it again, her own natural immunity would make the impact “minimal.”
Giroir said he’s had three doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and recommends people get their shots, but trumpeted natural immunity as at least as good as vaccine immunity. He recommended the Colorado patient get vaccinated anyway to be “super protected.”
For the rest of the country, though, he thinks more respect should be given to people who have recovered from the disease.
“I think the data are clear: natural immunity is powerful and should be an option [alongside] vaccines for those who don’t want to get the vaccine for any reason,” he said.
A study in August found natural immunity was holding up stronger against the delta variant than a standard course of the Pfizer vaccine, though it has not been peer reviewed and did not take booster doses into account.
Other health leaders, including presidential adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, have stressed that more study is needed to determine if natural immunity is strong enough to forego vaccination.
Giroir is also optimistic about the trajectory of the pandemic, though he cautioned the virus has surprised us before and could do so again.
“We are probably over the hump with delta. We can’t let our guard net down,” he said, “but most people now are either immune naturally because of delta sweeping through, or they’ve been vaccinated, or a combination of the two.”
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