So Far we have had only about six months of experience with the Covid 19 vaccines, but evidence suggests that vaccines could protect us for years or even a lifetime.
The heads of Pfizer and Modern may tell us that boosters are needed, but that claim has never been scientifically confirmed. And according to a newly released study in a preprint in Nature, it may not even be necessary, at least until the virus evolves significantly beyond the current variants.
The study, which looked only at RNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer), examined the lymph nodes of 14 patients who had received two doses of the vaccine. These lymph nodes, located in various organs, are a kind of training grounds for immune cells, where they multiply and specialize. The researchers found that 15 weeks after the first dose, the germinal center of the lymph nodes was still very active and the number of memory T cells that recognize the virus had not decreased.
With the vaccines, a lifetime protection
“The fact that cell production continues almost four months after vaccination is a very, very good sign,” study co-author Ali Ellebedy told The New York Times. “Activity in germinal centers typically peaks one to two weeks after immunization and then declines. Furthermore, the antibodies produced were adapted to both the original virus and the different variants. This result suggests that a large majority of vaccinated individuals are protected over a very long period of time,” says the scientist. Theoretically, immunity to the coronavirus could even last a lifetime, unless other more worrisome variants emerge.
A study in 2020 had already shown that infection with SARS-CoV-2 produced a strong and long-lasting immune response. So it seems that the same is true for vaccines, at least for RNA vaccines. But AstraZeneca’s vaccine could also produce the same effects: According to a study from Oxford University, antibody production against SARS-CoV-2 remains elevated for almost a year after the first dose. That doesn’t stop some countries from recommending a third dose of the vaccine, even though many people around the world have not had access to a first injection.