Immune System Protects Against Covid Months After Immunization

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According to a study by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, where technology for mRNA vaccines was developed, our immune system will have a backup plan after the effectiveness of the antibodies against Covid start to fade.

The University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine tracked 61 people for six months after their shot.  The research team noted that eventually the antibodies from the shot slowly waned, but the mRNA vaccines were able to generate immune memory to Covid.

John Wherry, director of the institute for immunology said this result was a little bit surprising.  This is making news on the heels of concerns for booster shots. However, Wherry said that our bodies should have their own natural support.  He says, “Should antibodies wane and you get a little bit of local infection, you have memory B cells there to sort of renew or respond very rapidly to make new neutralizing antibodies.”

Wherry’s study found that people were producing high levels of T cells, a type of white blood cell, after six months.  These findings help explain why immunization is so effective at protecting against hospitalizations and death.

Wherry continued, “We’re seeing a drop in efficacy when you only measure whether people get infected, but really, really steady immunity if you’re measuring severe-disease outcomes.  That fits with the idea that circulating antibodies are going to protect you from infection, but memory B cells and memory T cells, while they may not eliminate the ability to have some virus in your nose, they’re actually going to prevent severe disease.”

“Vaccinated people are really not fueling this fire; it’s really unvaccinated people that are,” Wherry said. “So that’s more reason to get vaccinated.”

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