Senate committee advances measure to recognize antibody test as equivalent to being vaccinated

Senate Joint Resolution 80 would not apply to federal mandates or private businesses

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — The Senate Health and Welfare Committee advanced a measure Wednesday that – in the event of any state vaccination mandates – would recognize natural immunity against COVID-19 as equivalent to being vaccinated.

Senate Joint Resolution 80 would cover individuals who, while unvaccinated, produce enough neutralizing antibodies to counter COVID-19 and can demonstrate the antibodies through a serology test.

The resolution would not apply to federal mandates or private businesses that might implement their own vaccine requirements.

“We’ve had more and more studies coming out to the point now that we even have international governments that have begun to recognize this as being equal to having been vaccinated,” said Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, who is sponsoring the resolution.

SJR 80 cleared the committee with 8-2 vote and now heads to the full Senate. If adopted, the provisions would remain in effect until Jan. 31, 2023

Alvarado, a physician who serves as chair of the committee, said there are various reasons why some of his constituents have not been vaccinated, and he has heard from many of them. Some are physicians and nurses who have already contracted COVID-19, he said.

Alvarado said he reviewed briefs by Johns Hopkins University, the World Health Organization and an original white paper from Australia regarding natural immunity and vaccination.

Several countries in Europe require travelers to have proof of vaccination, but also recognize  proof of a previous infection that produces an equivalent antibody response, he said. Some of the applicable countries he named include Finland, Austria, Denmark and Germany.

“I think it’s time for the state to be able to recognize, as many international governments have, to start recognizing people that have a measurable antibody response,” he said.

The measure was met with opposition from Sen. Karen Berg, D-Louisville, who is also a physician and voted against the resolution. She said the data is still coming out, and that leading health officials are not recommending the resolution’s approach at this time.

“My understanding is the only mandates for vaccination in the state right now would be for health care workers and private employers,” she said. “I don’t think the state, and somebody please correct me if I am wrong, is requiring any vaccinations at this point. So no, I do not see the purpose of this. It is not good science.”

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