Covid vaccine could give lifetime protection if you’ve already had virus, says doctor
The mRNA jabs can provoke an immune response that can protect people for years, Washington University researchers found.
They say Covid survivors’ immune cells recognise the infection, which can still be found in bone marrow eight months later. With me, I still had antibodies at 11 months when I had my first vaccination.
After looking at other research that demonstrated memory B cells could still be getting stronger 12 months after the initial infection, scientists concluded immunity could be lifelong if someone had a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine aftergetting the virus.
Immunologist Dr Ali Ellebedy, whose team led the study, couldn’t say if someone who received the mRNA jabs and hadn’t previously been infected was protected the same way.
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But she said: “It is a good sign for how durable our immunity is from this vaccine.”
The study included 41 Covid survivors who had been fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna.
Immunologist Marion Pepper, from the University of Washington, said: “Everyone always focuses on the virus evolving – this is showing that the B cells are doing the same thing.
“And it’s going to be protective against ongoing evolution of the virus, which is really encouraging.”
The report said it was possible severe Covid-19 infection “could lead to a different outcome” but this “has not been the case in survivors of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa”.
The study comes after new research suggested mixing doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines results in a robust, and possibly even stronger, immune response against coronavirus.
The Com-COV study, run by the University of Oxford, found that using Pfizer followed by AstraZeneca, or vice versa, induced high concentrations of antibodies against the spike protein of the virus when doses were given just four weeks apart.
It also suggests that people who have had two Oxford jabs could have more antibodies if given a different booster, with the proviso that more antibodies don’t necessarily mean more protection against the virus. This principle could be followed in the booster programs scheduled for the autumn.
The findings could allow flexibility in the UK and global vaccine rollouts, allowing people to receive whatever jab is available rather than waiting for a matching one.
But given the UK’s vaccine supply position, it’s unlikely the schedule will change at the moment.