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How long will coronavirus vaccines protect people?

April 4, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 27.8%. 2 min read.

There's news that coronavirus vaccines protect people for at least six months and likely longer. But how about the variants?

Doctors are worried that coronavirus may end up being like influenza, which requires a new vaccine every year both because the circulating strains mutate fast and because immunity from the vaccine wears off quickly.

Although initial evidence suggests immunity from vaccination against coronavirus provides long-lasting protection, vaccine makers have begun making and testing versions of their vaccines that protect against worrying variants of the virus.

The latest report from vaccine maker Pfizer shows people in South Africa who got its coronavirus vaccine after B. 1. 351 became the dominant circulating virus were still very strongly protected from infection -- something that backs up laboratory experiments that have shown the vaccine causes such a strong and broad immune response that it provides a cushion against any effects of mutant viruses.

The trial Haydon is taking part in is testing not only a third dose of Moderna vaccine tweaked to protect specifically against B. 1. 351 -- that's what he got -- but a third dose of original vaccine in some volunteers, too, to see if the boosted immune response is both safe and provides an advantage.

"I would not be surprised if we learned a year from now that these vaccines are still producing a strong immune response," Hensley told CNN.

Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine in February showed blood taken from people who got Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine continued to produce an immune response against B. 1. 351.

"Although we do not yet know exactly what level of neutralization is required for protection against Covid-19 disease or infection, our experience with other vaccines tells us that it is likely that the Pfizer vaccine offers relatively good protection against this new variant," Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at University of Texas Medical Branch, told CNN at the time.

Immunologists say that's a sign the immune system is responding to the vaccine, although people who report no symptoms also develop an immune response, so the symptoms do not appear to suggest someone's having a better response than someone who doesn't develop a fever.

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