Coronavirus “programs” the human immune system
(ORDO NEWS) — The first encounter with COVID shapes the future immune response to new infections.
New research shows that the body’s first encounter with the coronavirus will shape the future immune response to new infections. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, scientists speculate that vaccine developers could tailor the drugs to match the history of human infection.
A person’s previous COVID infections will determine their body’s immune response to future variants, according to a new study, Sky News reported.
“Imprinting” is the name given to the process where the first burst of SARS-CoV-2 protein that a person encounters (through vaccination or infection) shapes the immune system’s ability to defend against variants and also affects the rate at which immunity is weakened. It could affect the way coronavirus vaccines are developed in the future.
The researchers propose that instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, developers could tailor vaccines to fit a specific person’s history of infection. The study is published in Science by a team from Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London.
Professor Rosemary Boyton of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London says: “Our first encounter with a spike antigen, caused by infection or vaccination, shapes our subsequent pattern of immunity through immune imprinting. Exposure to various spike proteins can lead to a decrease or increase in responses to variants in the future. This has important implications for future vaccine design and dosing strategies. ”
Antibody levels decline over time after infection or vaccination, but this new study shows that a person’s protective immune responses are also influenced by the strain or combination of strains to which they were previously exposed.
Professor Danny Altmann of Immunology and Inflammation at Imperial College London says: “We recently did some very large studies that showed that immunity to vaccines is rapidly waning. This leaves us vulnerable to Delta Variant breakout infestation, and the defenses can usually be saved with a third dose. This study now offers significant new details about who is susceptible to a Delta breakout and when.
The scientist added: “The really amazing news was the discovery that people infected with the Alpha variant had such different patterns and weakened immunity to the other variants. Immune imprinting means that we are now all walking, programmed a little differently for our future protection”
This study was conducted before the emergence of the new COVID-19 strain, Omicron, and the researchers who participated in the study emphasized that there is still insufficient data on the new variant of concern to draw any conclusions.
Professor Altmann said that he and his colleagues are confident that the current vaccine crop will provide good protection against the Omicron variant, even though numerous mutations in the spike protein are troubling.
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