German immunologist Thomas Jacobs believes that vaccination will calm the global coronavirus epidemic and that immunity will last for at least two years. Pharmaceutical companies have given us hope for mass immunization against coronavirus.
But will a vaccination protect us from infection for the rest of our lives or just a few months?
Vaccine development news really sounds great. The candidates of “Moderna” and “Pfizer” offer 90% protection against covid-19, and the vaccine “Astra Zeneka” at least 70%.
And as we take a closer look at life after the pandemic, hoping to “turn” the vaccine into a memory, the main question is how long will people be protected from the virus?
It is still too early to answer because there have been no long-term studies so far. A recent study by the California Institute of Immunology in La Jolla on infected people found antibodies and T cells – the two main weapons of the human immune system – at least five months after infection, even in those with mild symptoms.
“This is encouraging data, given that our defense system has many different modes of action,” said Thomas Jacobs of the Berhard Noh Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg.
“This study suggests the existence of sterile immunity, that is, the one that kills the virus before it enters the cells,” said Jacobs, noting that appropriate vaccines may even elicit a better response to antibodies than natural infection.
“In addition, the response of T cells, or specific lymphocytes to fight viruses, lasted several months, indicating the development of clinical immunity,” said Jacobs. This means that patients will have only mild symptoms, such as those common in the common cold.
However, based on this, we can not assume that the vaccine will guarantee lifelong immunity.
The vaccine creates stronger immunity
Carsten Walkl, an immunologist at the Leibniz Institute in Dortmund, says a person is usually protected from one year to one and a half years after being infected with milder coronaviruses, such as those that cause colds.
“But you can not compare the body’s immune response to a natural infection with the one that follows vaccination because it is much more effective,” said Wockel, secretary general of the German Immunology Society.
For at-risk groups such as nursing home users, it is more important to develop a vaccine that will guarantee sterile immunity, while for the general population, clinical immunity would probably suffice, Jacobs said.
It is unknown at this time if the vaccine will stop the spreading of the virus.