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A health worker extracting blood from a patient for a coronavirus antibody test in Krakow, Poland, in April 2020. Photo: Omar Marques/Getty Images

When the GOP Doctors Caucus gathered to publicly encourage vaccines last week, the message came with a caveat: Talk to your doctor about an antibody test.

For example: "If you haven’t had the vaccine, or if you haven’t tested positive for the virus, go to your doctor. Ask him for the antibody test," said Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), who is an OB/GYN.

  • "And then you and your doctor should decide the pros and cons, the risks and benefits and if you want the vaccine."

Be smart: This advice runs counter to CDC guidance. Public health experts say natural immunity certainly shouldn't be disregarded, but they wouldn't support this recommendation.

“It is true that if you’ve had prior infection, you have some protection," said Jen Kates, KFF's senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy.

  • However, current scientific evidence shows the vaccine-induced immunity consistently protects better than natural immunity in part because of how the virus learns to disrupt and evade the immune system, Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, tells Axios.
  • Experts said antibody tests are useful tools, but they aren't perfect and they don't necessarily tell a person the level of antibodies they have.
  • “Put it this way: For me? I wouldn’t rely on that as a method of protection," Kates said.

Go deeper: Prominent Republicans find new enthusiasm for COVID-19 vaccines

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2021 - Science

Moderna suggests booster shots, citing clinical data

A box of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia. Photo: Algi Febri Sugita/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Moderna vaccine's efficacy declines a year after it's administered, compared to protection seen in recently inoculated individuals, the vaccine maker announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: Moderna made its case for supporting booster shots, citing clinical trial data that demonstrate breakthrough infections are less common among participants approximately eight months after receiving the first dose compared to approximately 13 months.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Los Angeles County to require vaccination proof at indoor bars — France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay — Moderna suggests booster shots, citing clinical data.
  2. Health: 1 in 500 Americans has died — Cases are falling, but deaths are rising — Study: Gaps in data on Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders alarming amid COVID.
  3. Politics: Gottlieb says CDC hampered U.S. response — 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers — Axios-Ipsos poll: 60% of voters back Biden vaccine mandates.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Sep 15, 2021 - World

EU pledges 200 million vaccine doses to Africa, low-income nations

Photo: Patrick Meinhardt/AFP via Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that the bloc would donate an additional 200 million coronavirus vaccine doses to Africa and low-income nations, AP reports.

Why it matters: The new donation, slated to be delivered by the middle of next year, comes as confirmed cases of the coronavirus have reached 225 million globally.

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