‘Superimmunity’ Same whether COVID or vaccination is first

January 27, 2022 — It turns out that it’s the combination that counts, not which comes first.

Strong immunity to coronavirus infection is about the same between people who were vaccinated and then had a breakthrough infection versus others who were first infected and then received immunization, a new study reveals.

Either way, humans generally get a robust immune response because of this hybrid protection.

“It was interesting that the immune boost for vaccination after natural infection was so uniform, since natural infection alone produces highly variable immunity,” said study author William B. Messer, MD, PhD.

“This was new, if not entirely surprising,” he says.

The research was published online Tuesday in Science Immunology.

Investigating Immune Responses

messer; lead author Timothy Bates, a PhD student; and their colleagues studied 104 Oregon Health and Science University employees who had been vaccinated against COVID-19. They divided them into three groups: 42 who had been vaccinated but never had COVID-19, 31 who developed the disease and were later vaccinated, and 31 others who had a breakthrough infection.

Ninety-six participants received the Pfizer vaccine, six received Moderna, and two received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Researchers compared immune responses to variants of the coronavirus using blood samples in a lab. The research was done before the emergence of the Omicron variant, although the researchers believe the findings still hold true.

Mean antibody levels were 3.6 times higher in hybrid immune groups, compared to the vaccination group alone, a significant difference. At the same time, mean levels were 2.5 times higher in the breakthrough group.

But researchers found no significant difference between the antibody responses of the hybrid and the vaccination group.

“Pre-infection is a ticket to improving your immune response to vaccination, giving you a more potent immunity than vaccine alone,” said Messer, an associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Oregon Health and Science University.

In addition, “Our work shows … the breakthrough infection will result in an immune response that is more likely to protect against further breakthrough infections.”

In contrast to vaccination alone, age was not a significant factor in hybrid immune responses. In other words, older people were just as likely to build “superimmunity” as younger participants.

Term ‘natural immunity’ controversial

There has been some controversy surrounding the term “natural immunity,” particularly in politically charged discussions in the United States.

“I think there has been some confusion about natural immunity being somehow equivalent to vaccine-induced immunity in terms of: [being] just as complete or protective,” Messer says.

But previous research shows that natural immunity may be more variable, he says, and more likely to provide less consistent protection, compared to protection that comes from a vaccine.

Vaccination remains essential

Although the hybrid immune response was strong regardless of the order of protection, the authors made a caveat.

“Because vaccination protects against serious illness and death, it is safer for individuals to be vaccinated before than after natural infection,” they wrote.

“A big message is that our work shows that vaccines can and should still play an important role in protection,” Messer said.

“Vaccination boosts all boats — if you’ve been previously infected or if you’re experiencing a breakthrough infection. In either case, your immunity will be nearly complete.”

Take the courses on Omicron

When it comes to Omicron, “the way to be prepared is to get vaccinated, preferably with two doses of mRNA, to avoid the serious complications of COVID-19,” said Hana El Sahly, MD, when asked to to comment on the investigation.

“The vaccines remain highly effective against severe COVID-19 and death from the permutations of the viral variants, which is on top of a remarkable safety record in hundreds of millions of people worldwide,” said El Sahly, a professor of molecular virology and microbiology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

This post ‘Superimmunity’ Same whether COVID or vaccination is first

was original published at “https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20220127/super-immunity-covid-vaccination?src=RSS_PUBLIC”