If you’re still waiting for bovine immunity for COVID-19, it’s time to move on: Experts

At the beginning of the pandemic, scientists and public health experts, drawing on their experiences with other viruses, made predictions about COVID-19, hoping that the virus would stop when enough people developed immunity.

However, in the following years and even after the introduction of highly effective vaccines, vaccine scientists and public health experts realized in an interview with ABC News that COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear completely.

Although bovine immunity through widespread vaccination may be a successful strategy for specific viruses that cause smallpox and polio, scientists no longer consider it a strategy to control the virus that causes COVID-19, experts say.

Cattle immunity means a situation in which the virus cannot spread because it is found in people who are resistant to it. As a result, a small number of people who do not resist can still be protected in a “herd” of stable people around them, as the virus spreads less to them.

However, herd immunity depends on some secret assumptions. First, those people who can stand it remain stable. Second, these resistant (or vaccinated) people cannot be infected with the virus. Over the past two years, scientists have found that these predictions are incorrect for COVID-19.

A registered nurse is administering a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to an 85-year-old woman at the State Vaccine Center inside the Allen Elderly Residential Complex in Queens, New York. 20, 2021.

Anthony Behar / Sipa USA AP, via FILE

Vaccine scientists and public health experts have said that bovine immunity to COVID-19 is unrealistic because we know about the virus itself.

In general, immunity declines relatively quickly, and vaccinated people can still be infected with the virus, especially when exposed to rapidly evolving new variants. At the same time, human behavior has been difficult to predict, the vaccine has spread more slowly than expected, and continuous social change has hampered scientists’ ability to anticipate and prepare for the future.

Lessons about the virus itself

Rare vaccines offer complete and complete protection against infection. On the one hand, tetanus can persist for more than 30 years. However, immunity to COVID-19 from infection and vaccine decreases over time.

“When you get the vaccine, it triggers two types of immune responses,” the doctor said. Paul Offitt, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, told ABC News. “One response is to build antibodies that last three to six months. Antibodies can protect against even mild illness.”

Antibodies are proteins that bind to virus particles and inactivate them. They also help prevent people from infecting others with the active virus because they can bind the virus before infecting a new person.

Based on antibodies against mild disease, immunity decreases after three to six months. However, because of the second immune response, immunity to severe disease is maintained.

PHOTO: Pedestrians in Times Square, New York, May 22, 2022.

Pedestrians in Times Square, New York, May 22, 2022.

Through Bloomberg Getty Images

“The second answer is to create memory B and T cells, they live longer,” Ofit said.

Memory cells fall asleep and need a trigger before they can produce antibodies.

The virus that causes COVID-19 has a short incubation period. Most infected people become infected within the first few days before their memory cells become active in producing antibodies.

Because memory cells finally become active after two weeks, infections usually do not progress beyond mild illness. But before that, many people pass the virus on to others.

“All vaccines still provide strong protection against serious diseases,” the doctor said. Dan Barush, a virologist and immunologist at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News. “None of the vaccines work well in preventing infection.”

Lessons learned from human behavior

Less than 70% of Americans will be fully vaccinated two years after vaccines become available. Around the world, vaccination coverage is even worse in many countries.

Leaving reservoirs by unvaccinated people is tantamount to leaving combustible materials around a forest fire. If there is too much fuel to feed it, the fire will burn. Each new infection is an opportunity for the virus to multiply and mutate. Some mutations may be resistant to the vaccine.

“Vaccines and boosters are currently free […] and available through mass public immunization sites, ”Azra Behlim, PharmD, MBA, Vice President of Pharmacy Sources & Program Services at Vizient, health services, ABC News reported.

In the future, as with other vaccines, the charge may change.

“[Federal] solutions […] Whether or not to extend the provisions of the COVID Relief bill will affect whether the change will take place now or later, ”Behlim said.

Experts predict that if everyone gets the vaccine every three to six months, true bovine immunity will develop, so antibodies will never be weakened. However, the logistics of vaccine production and the risk of fatigue make this impossible.

“The only reasonable goal of this vaccine is to prevent serious illness,” Offit said, noting that deaths and hospitalizations have dropped significantly since Americans were vaccinated.

Experts are shifting from herd immunity to the prevention of severe disease, which they say should be socially excluded.

However, experts say that social exclusion policy uses assumptions about human behavior, not just the behavior of the virus.

“We have a picture of what happened over time, but as people’s behavior changes, these assumptions become invalid and the models begin to break down,” he said. John Brownstein, a contributor to ABC News and a senior innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Epidemiological patterns need to change rapidly if more virulent and infectious variants emerge.

Genevieve Young, PhD, resident of psychiatry in New York and contributor to the medical department of ABC News.


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