Six recent studies suggest that people who have already contracted COVID-19 may not need to receive a second dose of vaccine.
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The federal government hasn’t changed its recommendation for a second dose, but studies looking at immune response show that while a first injection gives people who have recovered from COVID-19 a big boost, the second injection does little difference.
“I think it makes a lot of sense,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Center for Vaccine Education at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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For someone who had COVID-19, the first injection is like a person without COVID-19 receiving a booster; it even has the side effects of someone getting a second dose of the vaccine, he said.
“It could reasonably be argued that people who can prove that they are infected, that is, they have antibodies to the virus, could reasonably receive a single dose,” Offit said.
There is no danger in getting a second injection, for someone who has had COVID-19, said Florian Krammer, who led one of the recent studies. But it may not provide any benefit because of the time and stress it takes to make a reservation, get to and from a vaccination site, and see the needle inserted.
And every person who doesn’t need a second shot means a first shot for someone else.
The challenge will be identifying who doesn’t need that second dose, he and others said.
“Implementation might not be that easy,” said Krammer, a professor of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
Anyone who has received a formal diagnosis of COVID-19, not just people who felt bad for a few days and assumed they had had it, or people who have antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, could presumably miss a second injection.
Last spring, antibody tests weren’t always reliable, Krammer said, but the ones that are still on the market now are good, although it’s still unclear whether a particular level of antibody is needed to protect yourself.
Antibody tests, also known as serological tests, detect proteins produced by the immune system in response to an infection.
According to Krammer’s study, published earlier this month but not yet peer-reviewed, a previously infected person receiving their first vaccine has a similar immune response to someone who has not had COVID-19 receiving the second. They even have the side effects of a second shot with your first shot.
And that second injection adds little additional protection, the study found.
“Changing the policy to give these people only one dose of vaccine would not negatively affect their antibody titers, it would not save them unnecessary pain, and it would release many urgently needed doses of vaccines,” he concluded.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, wrote about the study on his weekly blog.
“While much more research is needed, and I am definitely not suggesting a change to the current recommendations at this time, the results raise the possibility that one dose is sufficient for someone who has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and has already generated antibodies against the virus, “Collins wrote.
“But any serious consideration of this option will require more data. It will also be up to expert advisers from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to decide,” he added.
It’s unclear exactly how much more data or what kind of information would be enough to convince regulators.
Plus: Why get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you still have to wear a mask? It’s better than getting sick, say health experts
Another of the new studies, a pre-printed from the University of Maryland, showed that 41 healthcare workers who recovered from COVID-19 had more antibodies after their first injection than 69 of their peers who had not contracted the virus after the second.
And a preprint from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that blood from people who recovered from COVID-19 was not as good at neutralizing the original or variant virus that originated in South Africa as the blood from people who recovered. they had recovered and were vaccinated. . Three other studies had similar findings.
Each of the six studies published this month looks at the issue in a different way, but “basically they all show the same thing,” Krammer said, “they are confirming each other.”
Contact Karen Weintraub at [email protected]
Patient health and safety coverage in USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: People Who Have Had COVID-19 May Only Need To Get Vaccinated Once, Studies Suggest