A successful humoral response to any modern vaccination entails the creation of a high affinity and durable antibody response that will protect individuals for many years. For all those of us who have received the mRNA-platform vaccines—the Pfizer BioNtech or the Moderna brands—the question is: “How long will our protection really last?”
In an accelerated article preview—mechanism through which a paper of high public interest gets prioritized —of the prestigious journal Nature, Jackson S. Turner et al., from the Washington University School of Medicine, addressed this issue. They studied the induction of Antibody Secreting Plasmablasts (PBs) and Germinal Centre (GC) B cells by the two available messenger RNA-based vaccines at present.
They said: “we conducted an observational study of 41 healthy adults (8 with history of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection) who received the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine…Blood samples were collected at baseline and at weeks 3 (pre-boost), 4,5,7 and 15 after the first immunization. FNAs of the draining axillary lymph nodes were collected form 14 participants (none with history of SARS-CoV-9 infection) at weeks 3 (pre-boost), 4, 5, 7 and 15 after the first immunization.” Do the mRNA-based vaccines induce significant antigen-specific PB and GC B cell responses?
They found that one week after the booster immunization, this vaccine induced a strong IgG-dominated antibody response in blood and that there were strong binding GC-B cell responses and PB responses in the lymph nodes’ aspirates from the 14 participants. These responses were initially detected after the first immunization, and they rose significantly after the second dosage. Compared to the humoral response to the seasonal flu-virus vaccination, these responses were higher in magnitude.
The authors said: “the persistence of S-binding Gc B cells and PBs in draining lymph nodes is a positive indicator of induction of long-lived plasma cell responses. Future studies will be needed to examine whether mRNA-vaccination induces a robust-S-specific long-lived plasma cell compartment in the bone marrow.” The authors admit that these are just preliminary studies that need much stronger scientific follow-ups. If the mRNA-based vaccines induce strong GC reactions, they will become critical tools in the fight against a pandemic that is still producing dangerous virus variants. Moreover, the rise of vaccine hesitancy in the USA and other nations, has to be remedied by increased delivery of good information to the public by the often “isolated, haughty scientists.”
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