Researchers at Rockefeller University in the United States have determined that vaccines boost immunity in people who have already had COVID-19 so that they receive protection even against new variants of the coronavirus.
People who have recovered from a coronavirus infection tend to have strong immunity against it for 6 to 12 months after the initial infection. Specialists analyzed antibodies present in the blood of patients with COVID-19 and tracked the evolution of immune molecules.
The 63 people in the study became ill with COVID-19 last spring. Their test results showed that over time, antibodies produced by the immune system’s memory B-cells were getting better and better at neutralizing the coronavirus, indicating the development of a long-term and effective defense against the pathogen.
These antibodies further strengthened their effect in 26 people who received at least one dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. The antibodies proved to be exceptionally resistant to the most dangerous variants of SARS-CoV-2, first isolated in the United Kingdom, South Africa and New York. These antibodies are produced by groups of highly evolved memory B-cells, which increase their numbers dramatically after vaccination.
The results show that timely supplemental doses (boosters) of currently available vaccines are the best way to provide additional protection to people who have never had COVID-19.