In the corona pandemic, mRNA technology is the most effective weapon in science. Without them, vaccines like those from Biontech / Pfizer or Moderna would hardly have been developed so quickly. The question still remains: How long do mRNA-based vaccines protect against the virus? Initial studies are based on several years, as the «Spiegel» reports.
The biotechnology companies themselves are more critical. Biontech and Pfizer want to keep the population’s immunity high with refresh campaigns. That is why they now want to apply for approval for the administration of a third vaccine dose in the USA and the EU. Biontech refers to its own study: a so-called booster vaccination is intended to increase the number of antibodies by up to ten times.
Researchers are critical of the approach
For German researchers, this venture comes too early. They warn against a hasty approach. As long as there are no reliable scientific studies, it is completely open whether millions of people will have to be vaccinated again in the fall, says Hajo Zeeb from the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology in Bremen.
The abbreviation mRNA means “Messenger Ribonucleic Acid”, in German messenger ribonucleic acid. Both Pfizer / Biontech, Moderna and Curevac rely on a new type of mRNA technology that has been researched for over ten years.
The mRNA is a kind of messenger molecule that carries the building instructions for the production of proteins. This transmits the necessary information to the body’s cells on how to produce a virus protein. As soon as the protein is produced in the body, the immune system recognizes it as foreign and thus produces antibodies against the virus. The immune response prepares the body to fight the virus.
After an infection or vaccination, a specialized structure forms in the lymph nodes, the germinal center. This is where the attack on the pathogen is blown. Typically, germination centers peak a week or two after vaccination and then decline. In contrast, germinal centers that are stimulated with mRNA vaccines hardly receded even months after vaccination.
Biontech refers to data from Impf-Turbo Israel. The practical application has shown that the protective effect of the vaccination decreases after six months. A third dose is therefore “required within six to twelve months after the full vaccination,” according to the Israeli Ministry of Health.
Does third vaccination against Delta variant help?
With the spread of the Delta variant, the effectiveness of the vaccination has decreased significantly. Zeeb doubts whether that could be changed with a booster vaccination. Only independent studies reviewed in specialist journals could provide information. The European Medicines Agency Ema is also aware of this. Compared to the «Spiegel» she announced: «At the moment it is too early to confirm whether and when a booster dose for corona vaccines will be necessary. The database is currently too thin for that. (ste)
60 to 80 percent protection: Pfizer / Biontech less effective against Delta(00:46)
Published: 07/12/2021, 11:37 a.m.
Last updated: July 13th, 2021, 7:10 pm