First head-to-head comparison of four COVID-19 vaccines

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Scientists from La Jolla Institute for Immunology reported the first analysis of how four types of COVID-19 vaccines prepare the body to fight SARS-CoV-2.

Their in-depth look at how T cells, B cells, and antibody levels shift in the six months following vaccination is critical for the understanding of how to protect people in the ongoing pandemic.

The research is published in Cell and was conducted by Professor Alessandro Sette et al.

In the study, the team examined human immune responses to an mRNA platform (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines), a recombinant protein-based adjuvanted vaccine platform (Novavax), and a viral vector-based platform (Janssen/J&J).

All four vaccines in this study were designed to prepare the immune system to fight the same target, called the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein.

Their key findings included:

Antibodies: After six months, those given Moderna had highest levels of neutralizing antibodies, followed by those given the Pfizer-BioNTech and Novavax vaccines. The Janssen/J&J vaccine led to the lowest neutralizing antibody levels.

B cells: Participants given the Janssen/J&J vaccine had the highest percentage of memory B cells after six months.

CD4+ T cells: All participants retained a similar percentage of memory CD4+ “helper” T cells against the virus.

CD8+ T cells: The Novavax vaccine led to the lowest levels of CD8+ “killer” T cells. A higher CD8+ response was seen in those given Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Janssen/J&J vaccines. Overall, after six months, only 60 to 70 percent of participants retained memory CD8+ T cells.

The study confirms that most people retain some immune response to SARS-CoV-2, regardless of which vaccine they receive.

The researchers caution that this immune memory may not prevent infection, but it appears to help fight severe disease.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about why some people are less naturally resistant to COVID-19, and cannabis addiction may increase COVID-19 risk.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies that too much body weight may increase COVID-19 death risk, and results showing that lung maintains long-term memory of COVID infection.

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