Third COVID-19 booster shot helpful to fight new and different variants

July 26, 2022
Third COVID-19 booster shot helpful to fight new and different variants

At least twenty different COVID-19 variants were identified and neutralised after a third booster shot, according to a new collaborative study by the Pirbright Institute (Pirbright), the University of Surrey, Imperial College London, and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). Scientists from the University of Surrey had provided an antigenic map of variants of concern for this study, which proved crucial to help identify the different variants and measure how each variant impacted the immune system.

The study cohort consisted of individuals aged 70-89 who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This vaccine triggers the immune system to create Y-shaped antibodies that can stick to the spike proteins which are found on the surface of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

If a person is infected with SARS-CoV-2, the antibodies bind the spike proteins preventing the virus from attaching to and entering the human cell, thereby helping to protect from severe disease.

In addition, as immunity decreases past 20 weeks of a vaccination, the antibodies in the booster shot again alerts the immune system to actively fight the infection.

All in all, the third Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccine enabled the participants’ immune systems to effectively identify and neutralise up to 20 different variants of the coronavirus.

“Understanding how the levels of neutralising antibodies relate to a well-defined immune response will be an important step in understanding how the immune system responds to SARS-CoV-2 and could also help in the management of COVID-19,” said Dr. Dalan Bailey, Head of the Viral Glycoproteins group at Pirbright.

“This information could help us to understand whether the risk of breakthrough infections, hospitalisation and death is increased by waning immunity or new variants. Research comparing immune responses to different SARS-CoV-2 variants and understanding the role of different mutations is vital in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and in predicting the outcome of new variants.”

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