Q: Do I need the vaccine if I’ve already been infected with COVID-19? Isn’t natural immunity better?
A: Vaccines produce STRONGER and MORE CONSISTENT antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 than natural infection, meaning EVERYONE can benefit from the protection.
💥 Don’t give away your shot!
As more people become eligible for the COVID-19, we’ve heard some people who’ve already been infected, especially younger people, doubting whether they need the vaccine.
We now have good evidence that vaccines produce HIGHER antibody levels against SARS-CoV-2 than natural infection, and people vaccinated after previous infection get a BIG boost.
In fact, a single dose of vaccine after a COVID-19 infection provides a turbo-boost of immunity, which is in many cases HIGHER than the immune response for never infected individuals after two doses of the vaccine.
There are still many unknowns about natural immunity to SARS-CoV-2 including how long it lasts. We do know that natural immunity is highly variable among people-for many it is high and durable, but some people produce low levels of antibodies that quickly fall below detectable levels.
COVID-19 vaccines are producing stronger and more consistent antibody responses, which is why vaccination is still recommended for those with previous infection.
Vaccines also likely protect better against the new variants. One of the new studies found that blood from previous COVID-19 patients was less effective at neutralizing the new South African B.1.351 variant. After one dose of vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna shot however, those antibodies rose a THOUSAND-fold, and could neutralize the new variant…. as well as the original SARS-CoV-1 virus from 2003 (WOW!).
More recent data from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) tested how well blood from previously infected COVID-19 patients compared to vaccinated individuals could neutralize four different SARS-CoV-2 variants including the more transmissible B.1.1.7.
The attached (really eye-catching!) figure shows that antibodies from vaccinated individuals on average had much higher neutralizing activity against all variants than did blood from people previously infected with COVID-19.
Finally, a recent study in pregnant women also found that vaccine-induced immune responses were significantly higher than the response in pregnant women with natural infection. Even better, vaccinated women passed on much higher levels of protective antibodies to their fetus or newborn than the women with antibodies from previous COVID-19 infection.
⬇️ BOTTOM LINE:
💥COVID-19 vaccination provides stronger and less variable antibody response than natural SARS-CoV-2 infection.
💥 Getting a vaccine after a COVID-19 infection provides a turbo-boost of immunity, which may be particularly helpful against new variants.
💥 Even if you’ve had a confirmed previous infection, getting vaccinated can dramatically increase your protection. Don’t give away your shot!
Those Nerdy Girls
Links and further reading:
“Neutralizing Antibodies Against SARS-CoV-2 Variants After Infection and Vaccination” (Source of figure)
“Robust spike antibody responses and increased reactogenicity in seropositive individuals after a single dose of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine.”
“Antibodies elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection and boosted by vaccination neutralize an emerging variant and SARS-CoV-1”
“mRNA vaccination boosts cross-variant neutralizing antibodies elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection”
“Antibody Responses in Seropositive Persons after a Single Dose of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine”
“COVID-19 vaccine response in pregnant and lactating women: a cohort study”
“Why you should get a COVID-19 vaccine – even if you’ve already had the coronavirus”