Coronavirus: Will booster shots be the new normal? | Coronavirus and Covid-19 – Latest News on COVID-19 | DW

For now, COVID-19 booster shots are needed because the number of antibodies in the blood decreases over time. With mRNA vaccines, it seems that the effect starts to diminish about six months after people have received a second dose.

With one-shot vaccines like the one developed by Johnson & Johnson, the German Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) even recommends that people get a booster injection before the six months have passed.

Future COVID-19 vaccines will likely need to be adjusted to effectively protect against new strains of coronavirus, just as influenza injections are adapted to new strains. Vaccines are already being developed to protect against mutations of the delta variant.

A woman holds up her vaccination passport

COVID-19 booster shots can eventually become routine

Faced with endemic COVID-19

Given the current rates of infection in Europe, there is still a chance that herd immunity can be achieved through a combination of infection and vaccinations.

When it comes to immunity, it may not be just a matter of antibodies, as evidenced by the preliminary, as yet peer-reviewed results of a study conducted by a large team of researchers from the UK and Singapore recently published in scientific journal Nature.

Over a period of months, the researchers monitored healthcare professionals who had been potentially exposed to coronavirus but who had not become recognizably ill with COVID-19 and were never tested positive. Serological antibody tests also showed no remarkable results.

Researchers in the state of New York

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Robust memory T cells

The researchers found that the 58 seronegative health workers (SN-HCW) had more multispecific memory T cells than a comparative cohort whose potential exposure to coronavirus was much lower.

The T cells were particularly targeted to the replication transcription complex (RTC), which efficiently spreads the virus.

The study found that the T cells in the SN-HCWs had a higher amount of IFI27, a protein that is “a robust early congenital signature of SARS-CoV-2,” and concluded that this was a suggestion of ” abortive infection. “

Therefore, the T cells may have terminated the infection early. What remains unclear is where the 58 SN-HCWs got their unusually high T cell immunity from. Could it be from a previous infection with another coronavirus, such as a cold virus?

One possible conclusion could be that the repeated exposure to coronavirus, such as SARS-CoV-2 – should it become endemic and if people should come into frequent contact with a small number of pathogens – could lead to a better immune system , either with antibodies or T cells. This would bring us one step closer to herd immunity.

So far, researchers have recommended caution and insist that no one should feel completely safe and assume that they are immune to coronavirus because there is still a very high risk of not being immune.

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