First infection, vaccination … Where is the research on the duration of immunity against Covid-19?

How long can you be immune to Covid-19? After being vaccinated, or after catching the virus for the first time, how long are you protected? An American study, published in the journal Science, brings the first elements: our immunity can last at least eight months.

Our immune system is still quite a mystery to researchers. But what scientists at the University of La Jolla in California (United States) looked at was what happened to 200 people recovered from Covid-19, 43 of whom were infected more than six months ago. . In their immunity, there are T lymphocytes, which gradually decline over time. To take an image, we can say that they are “soldiers”, who fight the virus by ridding the infected cells.

But there are also “generals” in the immune memory: B lymphocytes, which will keep in mind the identity of the enemy – the coronavirus – and which can reactivate the immune defense. In summary, what the researchers saw in this small number of patients was that at least three memory components of the immune system were still present, five to eight after infection. The further we advance in the epidemic, the more studies will look back on how long our body is immune. But it is also on condition that the virus does not mutate too much and that it does not change its face too much.

As far as vaccines are concerned, for the moment we are basing ourselves on the results of studies carried out by the laboratories which developed them. They show that they protect fairly well against serious forms, but we are also starting to see whether they limit the transmission of the virus, which will raise the question of vaccinating younger patients.

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For now, the instruction remains to prioritize the elderly, people with comorbidities and those who are very exposed to the virus, such as caregivers over 50 years old. But this theory works, until proven guilty. How long does it take for these vaccinated people to be protected from a severe form of the virus? In this regard, researchers remain cautious.

“We don’t really know, for example entrusted the president of the High Authority of Health, Dominique Le Guludec, Tuesday January 12 on franceinfo. The projections are beyond six months, that’s for sure, probably almost a year. But beyond that, we don’t know. We advance by walking, we must observe to be able to say, and the first vaccinated are recent. “

“It is not impossible that we need to be vaccinated again every year.”

Dominique Le Guludec, President of the Haute Autorité de Santé

to franceinfo

For the moment, we are therefore moving towards a seasonal vaccination, a bit like the flu. But, once again, until proven guilty and until we know more about the mysteries of our immune system.

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