Pfizer, Moderna COVID vaccines produce ‘long-lasting’ immune response — study Research indicates booster shots may not be needed and that inoculation is able to provide defense against at least some of the coronavirus variants
TIMES OF ISRAEL – The Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines produce a continuing immune response, a study has found, indicating that they offer long-lasting protection against COVID-19.
The study, published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, found that the vaccines “induce persistent” production of antibodies “enabling the generation of robust humoral immunity.”
In addition, the vaccines were found to produce high levels of antibodies against three known variants of the coronavirus, including the Beta variant first detected in South Africa. There was an even stronger antibody response to the variants among those who were vaccinated after already previously being infected with COVID-19.
Though researchers only studied those who received the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, it uses the same mRNA technology to produce inoculation as the Moderna shots.
Whereas many existing vaccines use bits of virus or bacterial proteins to prompt an immune response, the mRNA-based coronavirus vaccines instruct the body to make and release so-called spike proteins, which then induce the immune response.
“The immune response to such vaccines is both strong and potentially long-lasting,” according to a report Monday from the Washington University School of Medicine, whose scientists led the research.
Though other studies have tracked the levels of antibodies in the blood of vaccinated people over time, the new research took a closer look at how the immune response developed in the body.
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, December 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Researchers discovered that germinal centers in the lymph nodes of participants in the study were still very active four months after they received their first vaccine shot.
“Germinal centers are the key to a persistent, protective immune response,” explained senior author Ali Ellebedy, associate professor of pathology and immunology, of medicine and of molecular microbiology.
“Germinal centers are where our immune memories are formed. And the longer we have a germinal center, the stronger and more durable our immunity will be because there’s a fierce selection process happening there, and only the best immune cells survive.”