Protection from any potential coronavirus vaccine might be short-lived and could require a booster to prolong protection, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.
As several companies move closer to the finish line of a potential vaccine for the virus, the role of antibodies takes on even more significance as it could determine how well any vaccine works and how often someone might need to receive it, or a booster, to prolong protection.
In response to a question about how long antibodies might offer some protection against infection, Fauci said Monday “we do not know.”
“With this spike protein that’s being presented in the way that we do it with primes and in some cases boosts, we’re going to assume that there’s a degree of protection, but we have to assume that it’s going to be finite,” he added during a Q&A discussion with Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “It’s not going to be like a measles vaccine.”
The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine generally confers lifelong immunity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Any potential coronavirus vaccine is unlikely to do the same, Fauci said.
“So there’s going to be follow up in those cases to see if we need a boost,” he said. “We may need a boost to continue the protection. But right now we do not know how long it lasts.”
“There are no documented cases where people got better and actually got sick again in the sense of virus replicating,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a rare case of an individual who went into remission and relapsed. … But Francis, I can say with confidence, that it is very unlikely if it’s a common phenomenon.”
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