Citizen Action Monitor

“I can’t foresee any of the vaccine candidates offering a lifetime immunity,” says Canadian epidemiologist

COVID will mutate, requiring different vaccine formulations and probably boosters throughout our lifetime. —

No 2676 Posted by fw, October 30, 2020 —

Raywatt Deonondan

“First of all, in the general population if you’re infected naturally, there’s going to be some people who get a not very serious infection, and they’re not going to produce as many antibodies. And some people in general don’t produce as many antibodies. With a vaccine we can calibrate the insult such that you produce a large number of antibodies. That’s the first thing. Second of all, a vaccine candidate probably has a booster shot built into it to, again, produce more antibodies. And third, a vaccine also produces immune response in that second arm of the immune system, the cellular arm, the “T” cell arm, and all this stuff combines to probably give us a better shot at lasting immunity. No matter what happens, we’ll probably need regular COVID-19 vaccine dosages like the flu or something like that. … I can’t foresee any of the vaccine candidates offering a lifetime immunity. I could be wrong, but that doesn’t look like that’s the way it’s going to go. The flu changes regularly and that requires a different formulation. COVID will also mutate, and that will require not just a different formulation but also probably additional boosters throughout our lifetime to make sure that we’re sufficiently immune.”Raywatt Deonondan, Epidemiologist, University of Ottawa

Below is my transcript of a CBC news clip featuring a series of short comments from immunologists and a virologist regarding our body’s antibody immunity to COVID-19. The clip concludes with an explanation from immunologist Raywatt Deonondan on why COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to offer lifetime immunity.

An embedded You Tube video of the news clip is included at the bottom of this post.

Also at the bottom is a link to a related story.

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Antibody immunity to COVID-19 may not last CBC News, The National, October 27, 2020

TRANSCRIPT OF NEWS CLIP

Andrew Chang — CBC Vancouver Anchor – Now another key tool in the fight against COVID-19 is, of course, our own body’s natural immune response to the virus. But a new study from the UK is warning that the antibodies, which are so important to that response, may not last.

Christine Birak explains — The number is slightly higher in Quebec, but experts say just 1% of Canadians have antibodies to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. And mounting studies show they don’t stick around.

Dawn Bowdish, Professor, McMaster University, Immunology Research Center – If those antibody levels are declining, then that means that the population is not as protected as we thought.

Christine Birak — The data hasn’t been published yet, but researchers in the UK examined over 17,500 antibody tests. In July, results indicated about 60 ­in every 1,000 people had detectable antibodies. By September it was just 44 suggesting the number of people with antibodies had dropped by more than a quarter in just 3 months.

Dawn Bowdish – As we would expect, young people tended to keep those antibodies longer and older people seemed to lose antibodies quicker.

Christine Birak – Canadian scientists conducted a similar study using saliva samples. Results found antibodies did fade but hung around in the majority of COVID-19 patients for at least 3 months. And while there’s a risk of reinfection, cases are still rare.

Jennifer Gommerman, Professor and Immunologist, University of Toronto – It’s telling us that the immune response is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, between these antibodies as well as other arms of the immune system.

Christine Birak – When the virus enters the body our immune system creates antibodies to stick to it so the virus can’t enter our cells. Other arms of the immune system include natural killer cells that can also recognize and kill off the infection.

While the virus can slow down your body’s immune response to it, a vaccine can offer your body a preview of the virus before it even arrives.

Dr. Chris Smith, Virologist, University of Cambridge, UK — Vaccines are not held back by those sorts of things. Vaccines can give your immune system a really good kick up the backside and make a very high level of antibody.

Christine Birak – Making vaccines the key to safely reaching herd immunity.

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Andrew Chang — Okay, we have epidemiologist Raywatt Deonondan joining us. Can you explain that last part to me? Because don’t you have the same problem with vaccine antibodies as you do with natural ones, in the sense that they don’t stick around for very long?

Raywatt Deonondan, Epidemiologist, University of Ottawa – First of all, in the general population if you’re infected naturally, there’s going to be some people who get a not very serious infection, and they’re not going to produce as many antibodies. And some people in general don’t produce as many antibodies. With a vaccine we can calibrate the insult* such that you produce a large number of antibodies. That’s the first thing. Second of all, a vaccine candidate probably has a booster shot built into it to, again, produce more antibodies. And third, a vaccine also produces immune response in that second arm of the immune system, the cellular arm, the “T” cell arm, and all this stuff combines to probably give us a better shot at lasting immunity. [*insult – medically, the term refers to any stressful stimulus]

No matter what happens, we’ll probably need regular COVID-19 vaccine dosages like the flu or something like that.

Andrew Chang – Right, that was going to be my next question. When you raise the idea of booster shots, is it in fact the case that no matter which vaccine candidate we’re looking at, in all likelihood it will require a shot year after year after year?

Raywatt Deonondan – Yeah. I can’t foresee any of the vaccine candidates offering a lifetime immunity. I could be wrong, but that doesn’t look like that’s the way it’s going to go. The flu changes regularly and that requires a different formulation. COVID will also mutate, and that will require not just a different formulation but also probably additional boosters throughout our lifetime to make sure that we’re sufficiently immune.

Andrew Chang — Thank you so much.

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VIDEO OF CBC NEWS CLIP

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SEE RELATED STORY

A new study suggests coronavirus antibodies fade over time – but how concerned should we be? by Sheena Cruickshank, The Conversation, October 27, 2010 — Cruickshank is a professor in Biomedical Sciences, University of Manchester, UK. “If antibodies fade over time, how worried should we be? Does this mean we cannot be immune to COVID-19? To answer this question, we need first to consider what antibodies are and what they can tell us about immunity.”

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