Researchers find 2 paths to ‘super immunity’ against Covid-19, no correlation with age
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University found that the additional antigen exposure from Covid-19 substantially boosts immunity regardless of whether it occurs before or after vaccination.
There are two paths towards “super immunity” against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and both provide roughly equal levels of enhanced immune protection, according to a new study. Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University studied the quantity, quality and breadth of humoral immune response from and without natural infection in addition to vaccination against Covid-19. They found that the additional antigen exposure from Covid-19 substantially boosts immunity regardless of whether it occurs before or after vaccination.
“It makes no difference whether you get infected and then vaccinated, or if you get vaccinated and then a breakthrough infection,” said Fikadu Tafess, co-author of the study. “In either case, you will get a really, really robust immune response — amazingly high.”
The Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization significantly reduce overall mortality and severe illness from the infection. Several studies have shown that people with hybrid immunity – induced through vaccination after recovering from coronavirus infection – have enhanced immune responses as compared with the vaccinated peers with no prior infection. But the effects of post-vaccination breakthrough infections on humoral immune response was yet to be determined.
The OHSU researchers measured neutralizing antibody responses from 104 vaccinated individuals, including those with breakthrough infections, hybrid immunity, and no infection history. The participants, vaccinated with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, were divided into three groups: 42 with no infection, 31 who were vaccinated after an infection, and 31 who had breakthrough infections following vaccination.
“We find that human immune sera following breakthrough infection and vaccination following natural infection, broadly neutralize SARS-CoV-2 variants to a similar degree,” the authors said in the study published in the journal Science Immunology.
While age negatively correlates with antibody response after vaccination alone, the researchers concluded that there was no correlation with age in breakthrough or hybrid immune groups.
“Together, our data suggest that the additional antigen exposure from natural infection substantially boosts the quantity, quality, and breadth of humoral immune response regardless of whether it occurs before or after vaccination,” the study said.