Dr. Fauci says coronavirus immunity may be ‘finite’, duration remains uncertain

Protection against any possible coronavirus vaccine may be short-lived and may require a booster to extend protection, White House health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.

As several companies move closer to the bottom line of a possible virus vaccine, the role of antibodies becomes even more important, as it could determine how well a vaccine works and how often someone might need to receive it or a booster. . prolong protection

In response to a question about how long the antibodies could offer some protection against infection, Fauci said Monday “we don’t know.”

“With this peak protein that presents itself the way we do with cousins ​​and in some cases increases, we are going to assume that there is a degree of protection, but we have to assume that it will be finite,” he said. added during a question and answer discussion with Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “It won’t be like a measles vaccine.”

The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine generally confers lifelong immunity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Any potential coronavirus vaccine is unlikely to do the same, Fauci said.

“So there will be follow-up in those cases to see if we need a boost,” he said. “We may need a boost to continue protection. But right now we don’t know how long it lasts.”

Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, added that reports of recovered Covid-19 patients reinfected with the virus are likely to be inaccurate. He said that the test used to detect Covid-19 was more likely to have picked up fragments of the virus that are still in the body of the recovered patient, but have probably not been reinfected.

“There are no documented cases where people got better and really got sick again in the sense of virus replication,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a rare case of a person going into remission and relapsing … But Francis, I can confidently say, it is highly unlikely to be a common phenomenon.”

He added that some other viruses, including Ebola, have shown the ability to reinfect recovered patients.

Fauci previously said there is a possibility that a coronavirus vaccine may not provide long-term immunity.

“When looking at the history of coronaviruses, the common coronaviruses that cause the common cold, reports in the literature indicate that the durability of protective immunity varies from three to six months to almost always less than a year,” said the latter. . month. “That is not a lot of durability and protection.”

But any protection would be welcome, particularly among vulnerable communities, such as healthcare workers and the elderly, who are likely to be prioritized through an emergency use authorization when a vaccine proves to be safe and effective in humans, Senior U.S. health officials previously said.

Officials will likely know if a currently developing vaccine candidate is safe and effective in early 2021, Fauci said Monday, following a timeline officials have promoted since before March. British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and US biotech firm Moderna are the two most advanced companies in developing their candidate vaccines.

The National Institutes of Health have partnered with Moderna to accelerate the development of its potential vaccine as part of “Operation Warp Speed,” the federal effort to accelerate the development of coronavirus vaccines.

Moderna is expected to transfer its candidate to phase three trials before the end of the month, although the company’s shares fell last week when STAT News reported that the company was delaying the start date of its trial. The phase three test is the most complete test the candidate will face, involving some 30,000 test participants. If all goes well and the candidate proves to be safe and effective in humans, the vaccine could be distributed before the end of the year.

There are 16 companies with vaccine candidates in human trials worldwide, the World Health Organization said last week. More than 10 companies in the US are already in human trials or preparing to start soon.

“We hope that as we move forward by the end of this year or the beginning of 2021, we will at least have an answer if the vaccine or vaccines, in the plural, are safe and effective,” Fauci said.