- There have been warnings from doctors and the UK’s Health Security Agency that waning immunity is leading to deaths even of people who have had two doses of a Covid vaccine.
- These are your body’s neutralising antibodies.
- Five months later that figure had fallen to 47%.
- It may be that now antibodies have waned far enough, this frailty in the immune system is being exposed.
Doctors and the UK’s Health Security Agency have warned that declining immunity is causing deaths in patients who have received two doses of the Covid vaccination as reported by BBC.
The immune system has two major functions: to keep us from being infected and, if that fails, to eradicate an infection from our bodies.
To help you visualise your immune system as a mediaeval castle, I’d like you to use your imagination.
A hostile and ruthless army of coronaviruses surrounds the castle, seeking to break in.
An exterior wall guarded by a legion of archers is your first line of defence. These are the neutralising antibodies in your body. You won’t get infected if they can keep off the virus army.
If the barriers fall down and the antibody-archers flee, the virus has gained entry. The castle has been assaulted, and you are now infected.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
There are still troops stationed inside the castle’s fortified keep. These are the memory B and memory T cells in your body. They can organise the troops, lead the immunological assault, and drive the enemy invaders out like knights on horseback.
The Covid vaccines have been preparing your body’s troops to fight coronavirus, including antibodies and memory cells that respond to infection.
It’s not surprising that at least one of those defenders is dimming. This occurs after each vaccination or infection.
Prof Eleanor Riley, an immunologist at the University of Edinburgh, says, “There is good evidence that antibodies are diminishing with time, and this has left us with evident abnormalities.”
The advent of the Delta variety has exacerbated the departure of these antibody-archers from their posts. It’s just better at spreading and infiltrating our bodies – it’s like a new army has arrived outside the gates, complete with a cave troll and siege weaponry.
You may have seen the results of this personally, like as someone you know who was double-vaccinated but nonetheless contracted Covid.
The AstraZeneca vaccination was found to minimise any sort of Covid symptom by 66% immediately after the second dose, according to unpublished research. After five months, the percentage had dropped to 47%. Pfizer’s figures dropped from 90% to 70%.
This is obviously a problem for governments attempting to control the virus’s spread. Your second line of defence will determine whether the viral invasion will do serious damage as it seeks to burn and plunder its way through your body. Vaccines, on the other hand, are currently keeping fewer individuals out of hospitals.
How much do vaccines cut hospitalizations?
“We are seeing considerable numbers of unvaccinated and vaccinated patients going into hospital,” says Prof Adam Finn of the University of Bristol, a government vaccination expert. “The protection you have against a very mild infection wears off faster, but it takes longer for it to put you in the hospital or kill you.”
The elderly are at a higher risk of needing medical treatment or possibly dying.
The vast majority of deaths in those who were double-vaccinated were in people above the age of 70.
People in that age range are still significantly better off than others who have a birthdate in common but declined the vaccine.
Unvaccinated more likely to die due to covid
The constant onslaught of time ages every cell in our body – including those that make up the immune system.
“It’s possible older people initially had protection, but now those antibodies have weakened, they may not have the second line of defence,” says Prof Eleanor Riley.
“That may be why we’re seeing elderly, fragile people dying despite two doses.”
All of this is layered on top of the fact that with age tends to come ill health.
People who start with a weakened immune system, including cancer and organ transplant patients, have a subtly different problem as their bodies do not respond as well to vaccines.
It is worth noting there are important differences between the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that have done most of the work protecting people in the UK.
“The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer) are really potent at antibody formation, the AstraZeneca vaccine is really good at generating T-cell responses.”
The good news is that even with waning, these are still exceptionally good vaccines.
Even with waning and in the most at-risk age groups, that protection is still in the region of 80-90%.
“Even the worst cases, six months later, are better than what we hoped for when we designed these vaccines,” says Prof Finn.
The even better news is that there is already evidence that the booster campaign – which has reached more than 11 million people in the UK – is making a difference.
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