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Immunity against Omicron fades rapidly after jabs, study reports

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Summary of findings from Neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant (BA.1) 1 to 18 weeks after the second and third doses of the NT162b2 mRNA vaccine.

This peer-reviewed study published on Friday 13 May 2022 in the JAMA Network Open has found immunity against the omicron coronavirus variant fades rapidly after a second and third dose of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 ‘vaccines’. Similar results were noted in studies from England, Scotland, and Brazil.

A study of covid vaccinations against severe SARS-CoV-2 in the UK aimed to estimate the effectiveness of vaccines against symptomatic and related hospitalization and death in England. Effectiveness was based on participant age and coexisting conditions over time from when the second dose of covid vaccine was administered.

The study showed the effectiveness of the vaccine against symptomatic covid-19 with the delta variant peaked in the early weeks after receipt of the second dose before decreasing by 20 weeks. A decline in effectiveness was greater for people aged 65 years and over when compared to people between the ages of 40-64 years. Effectiveness after the second dose declined against both hospitalization (80%) and death (84.8%).

A study that compared decreasing effectiveness after two doses of the vaccine was also conducted on population-based samples in Brazil and Scotland. This study assessed the effectiveness of the vaccine over fortnightly periods, relative to 2-3 weeks after the second dose. In Scotland, nearly 2 million adults received two doses of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, and just over 42.5 million in Brazil. Results showed waning vaccine protection for both hospital admission and death in Scotland and Brazil. This was particularly so within three months of the second vaccine dose. The authors suggested consideration of booster shots may be required for those who have received the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine.

The English and Scottish studies suggest vaccine efficacy was stronger than that of the Danish study.

The Danish study assessed results from 128 adults who had received two or three doses of the shots between January and October 2021 or were previously infected before February 2021.

Findings noted antibody levels associated with protection against infection and disease, fell within just weeks of getting the shots. The rapid drop in antibodies showed a substantial decline from 76% after the first four weeks of the second shot to 19% by week 12 to 14 weeks.

A study from Qatar produced somewhat better results, suggesting a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine-induced protection against SARS-CoV-2 hospitalization and death for up to 6 months. But the study also found protection against infection waned rapidly.

Antibodies are created by the immune system after an infection from either a bacterium or a virus. Neutralizing antibodies block ‘invaders’ and stop them from spreading and changing shape.

The study findings were based on a temporal analysis (the same analysis performed over different time periods) of virus neutralization responses against three strains of the virus following second and third doses of the mRNA vaccine. Using several statistical analysis methods, the study found significant differences between those aged less than or equal to 65 years and those greater than 65 years after the second dose but not after the third dose.

The study noted that SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies were correlated with protection against infection and disease. However, the findings are limited as they cannot enable understanding of decreases on an individual level.

The study’s authors have suggested additional boosters may be necessary for older people but have noted consideration of T-Cell immunity and non-neutralizing antibodies may still provide protection against hospitalization and death.

Non-neutralizing antibodies work like a GPS tracker in that they alert T-cells and other parts of the immune system that there is a problem without tackling the problem itself. The non-neutralizing antibodies attach to a virus but cannot prevent it from spreading.

T-cells destroy any compromised cells within the body to prevent infection from spreading. Generally, T-cells and antibodies work together to protect the body and keep us healthy.

A strong immune system can effectively fight infection, such as coronavirus with little effect, while others with lower strength immune systems may experience more pronounced symptoms. Given the above-mentioned studies showed similar results for people aged 65 years and over, it is possible older people may require additional support to fight off infection over the longer term. Whether that protection is in the form of further vaccination or strengthening natural immunity is not yet clear. It is suggested longitudinal studies explore the benefits of natural immunity to fight new and emerging infections. It is also suggested impact studies on the effects of ongoing boosters to respond to infection be conducted to determine whether it is in the longer-term interest of individuals.

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