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Will the COVID-19 vaccine provide lifelong immunity?

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Our best bet to stop COVID-19 is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Noam Galai/Getty Images
  • Two recent studies have found that immunity caused by infection can take several months.
  • Experts believe that vaccination will make the immunity caused by infection to last longer.
  • Researchers have found that many people who recover from COVID-19 and subsequently receive the mRNA vaccine may not need additional boosters.

Whether or not we develop immunity to COVID-19 or how long it will last. It was still a mystery from the beginning. of the pandemic

However, two new studies help us better understand how our immune system adapts to infections. And what might that mean for vaccination?

Results of the study published in May. It has been found that immunity caused by infection may last for several months or longer. But experts believe that vaccination may make this immunity last longer.

Another important finding from both studies was that The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 and subsequently receiving an mRNA vaccine (eg Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine) may not require booster vaccination.

Both studies examined people who were infected with the coronavirus about a year earlier.

according to one studyImmune cells located in our bone marrow, published in the journal Nature, store a “memory” of the coronavirus. and can create protective antibodies to prevent re-infection.

Another study, which has not yet been reviewed by experts. It was found that these immune cells were able to mature and become stronger about a year after infection.

“The data suggest that patient immunity can last for a very long time. and convalescent individuals vaccinated with existing mRNA vaccines produce antibodies and memory B cells that should prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2,” the study authors write.

“Our immune system is made up of B cells, a type of white blood cell (WBC),” said Dr. Miriam Smith, chief of infectious disease at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, Northwell Health, New York. body immunity.

“They originate and grow in the bone marrow. It is then transferred to the spleen and lymph nodes,” she told Healthline. “B cells are activated in response to antigens, viruses or bacteria.”

Smith explains that B cells have receptors on their surface that can bind to these pathogens.

“With the help of T-cell This is another component of the immune system. B cells differentiate into plasma cells to produce antibodies that trap invading viruses or bacteria. and allow other cells (macrophages) to destroy intruders,” Smith said.

She said that after infection, the “memory” B cells were around, so if the same virus or bacterium invaded again. The immune system “remembers” and activates new functions to combat it.

Dr. Lane Horowitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said: “Vaccination is still important for those people. “As far as we know Their immunity may not last longer than the 11 recorded months.”

He explains this means that people with the disease cannot rely on previous infections to build immunity the way people can against measles, mumps and rubella. “And these do not require permanent immunity. But let’s just say lifelong,” he added.

According to Horovitz, a re-infection does not mean that the disease is aggravated.

“It could be more intense. the same level of severity And it could be worse,” he explains, “so there’s a lot we don’t know.”

to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Re-infection means someone is sick once. Healed and sick again. The CDC emphasizes that although this is not normal, But re-infections can occur with COVID-19.

“We don’t know the exact rate. [of reinfection]said Horowitz. “We know it can happen. We know it’s not common. But it’s not rare.”

If re-infection is possible, Horvitz points out: “Then you can spread it to other people.”

He said this meant that people infected with other infections would not affect the herd’s immunity.

“So it’s important if you have COVID not to rely on the fact that you have it and probably won’t get it again,” Horvitz said, “and you need to be immune because the antibodies you get from infection are different. from the antibodies you get from immunization They are two different measurable antibodies.”

These new studies also suggest that the majority of people who have recovered from COVID-19 and subsequently received one of the mRNA vaccines. A booster vaccination is not required to maintain protection against the virus.

However, vaccinated people who have never been infected before will usually need booster vaccination. Like a small number of people with the disease, it does not produce a strong enough immune response.

According to Horovitz, booster injections may help.

“Actually, there was an article this week in The New York Times where they looked at the responses of people who have been infected with coronavirus and have been vaccinated. And they have an incredible immune response. than people who are innocent from COVID [hadn’t had a previous infection],” he said.

“So people with COVID-19 will be vaccinated So there is no need for stimulants,” he continued. “They are more immune than people who have been vaccinated. [and never had a previous infection], it would seem.”

Two recently published studies found that people recovering from COVID-19 will develop antibodies that may last for almost a year

Experts say re-infection, although not uncommon. But it can happen. And vaccination with one of the mRNA vaccines (such as Pfizer-BioNTech’s Moderna vaccine) can significantly increase immunity.

Experts also say that those infected with COVID-19 Booster injections may not be necessary to maintain the level of protection. This is because the mRNA vaccine induces a powerful immune response in this group.

However, experts warn that people who haven’t been infected before are more likely to want these infections.

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