The epidemic situation indicates that the immune resistance may decline six months after vaccination; vaccinated people are also starting to reach hospitals in Italy, said Dr. Maciej Tarkowski, an immunologist from the infectious diseases department at the University of Milan. As he emphasized, the third dose of the vaccine is necessary in many cases.
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Dr. Tarkowski works in a team of researchers that isolated the coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, which was a very helpful achievement in understanding the new pathogen. Together with other scientists, the Pole was awarded by the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella.
– We are in a situation where the pandemic is influenced by various elements. First, a month ago, most of those hospitalized for COVID-19 were unvaccinated people. At present, these are also more and more vaccinated people – emphasized the scientist.
At the same time, he made a reservation that the thesis that the immune response, and thus the immunity, decreases already six or seven months after vaccination.
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– It is known that there is a large group of people, including the elderly, who undergo various types of immunosuppressive therapies. They respond much worse to vaccination, are less protected because they produce less antibodies – he added. – These people also probably have a smaller so-called immune memory; They are cells that remember contact with the virus during their second and subsequent contact with it and can react much faster – explained the immunologist from Milan.
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As he noted, perhaps due to the lapse of time after vaccination, many people have had their immune protection so lowered that they are again more susceptible to infection.
Also, as he emphasized, the Delta variant also contributes to the fact that even those who are vaccinated are now hospitalized.
– Nevertheless, vaccinations have had a positive effect, because there are definitely fewer critical cases than during the first wave and a smaller number of deaths – recalled Tarkowski.
– We are at the point where it seems giving the third dose, especially to people with reduced immunity, the elderly, certainly makes sense, because it helps and restores immunity and allows you to protect much more – he said.
– Italy is the second country after Israel that approved the third dose of the vaccine and started administering it relatively earlier than in other European countries – he reminded.
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When asked why he thought the theory of herd immunity was beginning to collapse, the immunologist replied, “This level has never been reached.”
– The Delta variant also contributed to this. Remember that the vaccine is built on the sequence of the unmutated virus, and the amino acid changes can also make the antibodies and the immune memory that has developed from a different sequence slightly less effective – added.
“Rapid inoculation is very important”
Maciej Tarkowski emphasized that the rapid vaccination of many people against COVID-19 is very important in order not to allow the virus to continue mutating.
– And that’s what happened with the flu; vaccination against it was started too late, and the virus escapes every year, mutates so much that we must always monitor what strain of the virus is most present in a given geographical region and prepare a specific vaccine for this type – he noted.
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– They are different in the USA and Europe, they have a different configuration – he explained.
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It is too early, according to the researcher, to say whether this will be necessary in the case of the virus that caused the current pandemic.
Tarkowski drew attention to the massive research conducted in Qatar. There, they compared the antibodies of people who had had COVID and were then vaccinated with those who were only vaccinated or infected. The former group is much less susceptible to reinfection.
The difference, he said, is significant; the mixture of naturally produced antibodies plus the vaccine gives greater protection, rather than the antibodies themselves after infection or vaccination. This is ‘hybrid immune immunity’, that is, the link between natural immunity and vaccination, he explained.
– I am a living example of this. I have been through COVID-19 and am after one dose of the vaccine, and my antibody levels really are quite high, ‘he noted.
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He emphasized that such a group of people may wait for the next dose of the preparation because it is more resistant, also to variants of the coronavirus.
– In contrast, people who are after two doses of the vaccine, in my opinion, should take the third dose after six months. This is another protection, because even in healthy people, the level of antibodies drops quite well without any problems. Even these are not the antibodies that are so important in this case, but the most important thing is whether it is immune memory. Stimulating her with the third dose, especially in the current situation, is advisable – assessed Maciej Tarkowski.
# delta variant