2021-09-01

How long does covid-19 immunity last? | The BMJ

How does natural immunity compare with vaccine induced immunity?

Various studies have shown that an immune response involving memory T and B cells emerges after covid-19 infection.11 But people's immune systems tend to respond in very different ways to natural infection,12 notes Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease at the University of Edinburgh. "The immune response after vaccination is much more homogenous," she says, adding that most people generally have a really good response after vaccination. Data from the clinical trials of the leading vaccine candidates have found T and B cell reactivity.13

Does vaccination make a difference to those who have already had covid-19?

There is some evidence that vaccination can sharpen immunity in people who have previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and recovered. A letter published in the Lancet in March discussed an experiment in which 51 healthcare workers in London were given a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Half of the healthcare workers had previously recovered from covid-19 and it was they who experienced the greatest boost in antibodies—more than 140-fold from peak pre-vaccine levels—against the virus's spike protein.14

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