Both vaccine boosters and post-vaccination breakthroughs provide substantial and potentially pandemic-busting immunity to COVID-19, according to a new study from Oregon Health and Science University.
A study published in the journal Wednesday During ~is the latest in a series of OHSU findings that use blood samples to characterize immune responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
“As the number of Omicron subvariant cases increases and global vaccination and booster campaigns continue, an increasing proportion of the world’s population will have strong immunity that may protect against future SARS-CoV-2 variants. We will get a response,” the researchers concluded.
The study measured a strong immune response in samples from 99 OHSU employees whose blood was drawn for the study. Remarkably, researchers measured a similarly strong immune response to the virus – dramatically increased in magnitude, potency and breadth – and blood drawn 3 months after the third booster dose. between those who were infected and another group whose blood was drawn one month after the breakthrough infection.
Additionally, the study found that the immune response was similarly strong among people over the age of 65.
Early in the pandemic, mortality among certain vulnerable groups, such as the elderly in nursing homes, was very high, but that reality is slowly changing. Even in old age, reinfection appears to be far less likely to cause severe disease than it was at the start of the pandemic. “
Marcel Curlin, MD, co-lead author, Associate Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), Medical Director of OHSU School of Medicine and OHSU Occupational Health
Dr. Fikadu Tafesse, co-first author and Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the OHSU School of Medicine, studied the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.
“Modern vaccine strategies with variant-specific regimens are expected to significantly improve the breadth of the immune response and provide better protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants,” he said.
In contrast to the pandemic outbreak, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is no longer “new” to the human immune system. Most people in the world are now vaccinated, infected, or both. That means the virus faces a more effective immune response with each new infection.
Carlin said the new research most likely reflects the fact that viruses are evolving to become more contagious but less harmful.
“Evolutionary pressure is pushing viruses to find more ways to infect people at the expense of virulence,” he said. refers to