According to a new study, the positive effects of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against COVID-19 may last for years.
Scientists led by Ali Ellebedy, an immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, aspirated lymph nodes in people who had received two doses of one of the vaccines, finding that the germinal center, where B cells learn to recognize the virus, was still active after 12 weeks.
“The broader the range and the longer these cells have to practice, the more likely they are to be able to thwart variants of the virus that may emerge,” The New York Times noted.
The study, published in the journal Nature, stated, “By examining fine needle aspirates (FNAs) of draining axillary LNs, we identified GC B cells that bound S protein in all participants sampled after primary immunization. Remarkably, high frequencies of S-binding GC B cells and PBs were sustained in these draining LNs for at least twelve weeks after the booster immunization. … Our studies demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-based vaccination of humans induces a persistent GC B cell response, enabling the generation of robust humoral immunity.”
The study concluded, “Overall, our data demonstrate a remarkable capacity of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-based vaccines to induce robust and prolonged GC reactions. The induced GC reaction recruited cross-reactive memory B cells as well as newly engaged clones that target unique epitopes within SARS-CoV-2 S protein. Elicitation of high affinity and durable protective antibody responses is a hallmark of a successful humoral immune response to vaccination. By inducing robust GC reactions, SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-based vaccines are on track for achieving this outcome.”
“The fact that the reactions continued for almost four months after vaccination — that’s a very, very good sign,” Ellebedy stated. Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona, echoed, “Usually by four to six weeks, there’s not much left.” He pointed out that germinal centers —which typically reach their apex after a week or two after immunization — triggered by the mRNA vaccines are “still going, months into it, and not a lot of decline in most people.”
Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, added, “Everyone always focuses on the virus evolving — this is showing that the B cells are doing the same thing. And it’s going to be protective against ongoing evolution of the virus, which is really encouraging.”
“The study sample did not include people who had received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which was created using an adenovirus. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were created using mRNA technology, which teaches cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside the body,” Fox News cautioned.
The New York Times also warned, “The findings add to growing evidence that most people immunized with the mRNA vaccines may not need boosters, so long as the virus and its variants do not evolve much beyond their current forms — which is not guaranteed.”
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