A recent study suggests people may have protection from the coronavirus for years if they received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. The study was published in the journal Nature.
“Overall, our data demonstrate a remarkable capacity of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-based vaccines to induce robust and prolonged ... reactions,” the study states.
The study only looked at Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines because they were developed using mRNA technology, which works by teaching cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside the human body. The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccine work differently inside the body.
The study focused on B cells found in the germinal center in lymph nodes of people who had received the vaccines. Researchers found a high level of activity among the B cells and antibody-secreting plasmablasts for at least 12 weeks after the second dose of the vaccine.
The level of activity suggests the body’s immune system was poised to keep churning out new antibodies to protect against the coronavirus.
They found “vaccine-induced GC B cells are maintained at or near peak frequencies for at least 12 weeks after secondary immunization. The persistence of S-binding GC B cells and PBs (plasmablasts) in draining LNs (lymph nodes) is a positive indicator for induction of long-lived plasma cell responses.”
“Germinal centers are the key to a persistent, protective immune response,” study senior author Ali Ellebedy said in a statement. “Germinal centers are where our immune memories are formed. And the longer we have a germinal center, the stronger and more durable our immunity will be because there’s a fierce selection process happening there, and only the best immune cells survive."
Ellebedy says germinal centers normally peak one to two weeks after vaccination and then start to decline.
"We’re still monitoring the germinal centers, and they’re not declining; in some people, they’re still ongoing. This is truly remarkable," Ellebedy added.
Researchers acknowledge more study is needed to track the production of antibodies.
There is ongoing debate whether there will need to be COVID-19 booster shots in the future; if they will be needed and when they should be given.