We recently discussed the lawsuit filed by a George Mason University professor who refused to get the Covid vaccine upon the recommendation of his doctors and due to his natural antibodies after recovering from the virus. GMU later relented and gave him an exception. However, now a University of California professor has sued on the same ground. Aaron Kheriaty, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California at Irvine, is the latest effort to force review of the issue of natural antibodies as a protection from Covid.
Kheriaty is suing the Board of Regents and the University president due to his antibodies from a case of Covid-19 in July 2020. He told SBG “[i]f my immunity is as good, indeed, very likely better, than that conferred by the vaccine, there doesn’t seem to be any rational basis for discriminating against my form of immunity and requiring me to get a different form of immunity.”
What is most interesting about the case is that Kheriaty serves as director of UCI’s Medical Ethics Program and is a member of the UC Office of the President Critical Care Bioethics Working Group. Kheriaty has complained that it is now verboten to even raise natural antibodies despite studies showing that they may be even more effective than vaccines. A study (often cited by the CDC) suggests the opposite.
Kheriaty cited studies showing that recovery yields considerable protection, including a study from researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology found that that the immune systems of those who recovered from COVID-19 had durable memories of the virus up to eight months after infection. He goes into detail on such studies. Thus, this is not some screed against vaccines but a science based challenge.
There has been an obvious aversion of the CDC and the Biden Administration in addressing the natural antibody issue. Most media have held that same line and there has been little discussion of such objections.
The challenge for Kheriaty is whether a court will find that taking the vaccine as someone with natural antibodies has not been found to be dangerous or harmful. As a result, it may conclude that it is simply too difficult for employers to establish natural antibodies and their specific level of protection. However, the same difficulty is present by vaccinated individuals who will likely have differing levels of protection over time.
Past challenges to mandates have included the natural antibody issues. Recently, in a challenge to Indiana University’s mandate, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected a motion for a preliminary injunction. The Court noted that there is not “a fundamental right ingrained in the American legal tradition” to refuse a vaccine. Challenges have also bee rejected to policies at Houston Methodist Hospital and Los Angeles Unified School District.
This case however presents the natural antibody case in its strongest and most direct terms. The odds are in favor of the university but it could be a case with potential for the Supreme Court.
Here is the complaint: Kheriaty Complaint