What to Expect from COVID-19 Vaccine If You Have a Chronic Condition

What to Expect from COVID-19 Vaccine If You Have a Chronic Condition

  • April 9, 2021

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If you have an autoimmune disorder, talk with a physician about what to expect from a COVID-19 vaccine. Jacob Lund/Getty Images
  • People with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatic or neuroinflammatory diseases, have expressed concern that the COVID-19 vaccines could aggravate their symptoms.
  • Health experts widely believe the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of a potential reaction or flare-up.
  • People may need to work with their physician to adjust the timing of their medications around their vaccination.

Many patients with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatic or neuroinflammatory diseases, have expressed concern that the COVID-19 vaccines could aggravate their symptoms or trigger a flare-up.

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) believes the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of a potential reaction or flare-up, considering how people with chronic conditions face an increased risk of a severe form of COVID-19 and hospitalization.

The ACR recently released recommendations for patients with autoimmune diseases who are concerned about how they may react to the vaccines.

The recommendations explain how certain immunocompromised people may need to work with a doctor who can adjust the timing of their medications to improve the efficacy of the vaccines.

“Vaccine side effects have more to do with an individual’s immune system and the reaction of that individual’s immune system to the vaccine than their chronic disease state,” said Dr. Ramin Ahmadi, the chief medical officer for Graduate Medical Education Global LLC.

The vaccines haven’t been widely tested in people with autoimmune conditions, so the data regarding their safety and efficacy of the vaccines in this group is limited.

People who are immunosuppressed, such as those on chemotherapy or people who have had a bone marrow transplant, may mount a less robust immune response, compared with the general population, but the vaccine is believed to still provide protection.

Health experts widely believe the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh the risks, since people with chronic conditions typically have a higher risk of a severe form of the disease.

Patients with autoimmune and inflammatory rheumatic diseases face a higher risk of hospitalization from COVID-19.

Every person will react differently to the vaccines.

“What’s important to keep in mind is that all diseases of the immune system were not created equally. Some may impact the development of vaccine-mediated immunity, and some stand to benefit a great deal from the vaccine,” Ahmadi said.

Many patients with autoimmune conditions fear the vaccine could trigger a flare-up.

“There may be a risk of a flare-up after the COVID vaccination in some individuals with severe disease,” said Ahmadi, noting this risk is theoretical.

But the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19 far outweigh any risks, experts say.

Though the data on the COVID-19 vaccines in immunocompromised individuals is limited, past research on other vaccines has shown that vaccination rarely causes adverse events in patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic disease.

A recent study published in The Lancet Rheumatology says that given this past data, the theoretical potential for an adverse event to occur shouldn’t be a reason to advise patients with autoimmune disorders against vaccination, especially when they are at an increased risk of a severe form of COVID-19.

Dr. David Cutler, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says getting vaccinated during a flare-up is generally OK.

Because steroid medications can suppress the immune system, it’s often advised that people taking such medications avoid them for 2 weeks before or after vaccination, says Cutler.

That said, you definitely don’t want to delay getting vaccinated against COVID-19, so talk with your doctor about the timing of your medications and disease state prior to vaccination.

Some of the side effects that occur after vaccination, such as fever, muscle aches and pain, and fatigue, may resemble symptoms related to an underlying condition.

The reactions can also be localized. For example, some people may develop lymph gland enlargement after vaccination, says Cutler.

“These reactions are generally mild, short-lived, and self-limited,” Cutler said.

Cutler says it’s OK to take Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain or Benadryl for itching after the vaccine if need be.

“The most important thing is getting the COVID vaccine as soon as you become eligible because this will reduce your chance of getting COVID, transmitting COVID, or experiencing any of the long-term effects of even asymptomatic COVID infection,” Cutler said.

Many patients with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatic or neuroinflammatory diseases, have expressed concern that the COVID-19 vaccines could aggravate their symptoms or trigger a flare-up.

Health experts widely believe the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of a potential reaction or flare-up, since immunocompromised people have an increased risk of a severe form of COVID-19.

People may need to work with their physician to adjust the timing of their medications around their vaccination.

Will you need a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot?

Will you need a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot?

  • April 9, 2021

Certain vaccines, such as the tetanus shot, require boosters every decade to rev up the immune system again. Some, like the flu vaccine, must be given every year because the virus changes so much.

Will something similar happen with the COVID-19 vaccines?

“Certainly, immunity will fade,” Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease physician and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told TODAY.

“The question is does it fade to the extent that you’re not protected against severe disease?”

Researchers may know in about six months whether booster shots might be needed, he added.

“Unfortunately, like so much else in COVID, it’s one of those things where we won’t really know when we are going to know until we have evidence that things are no longer working,” said Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“We need the accumulated experience over time to know what it all means.”

For now, the shots are working well, with Offit calling them “powerful immunogens.” Both he and Kuritzkes predicted immunity given by the COVID-19 vaccines would last two to three years.

What’s known now:

This month, Pfizer and BioNTech said trial data showed their vaccine still offered high levels of protection against COVID-19 six months after their second dose.

Moderna also touted a study showing “antibody persistence” six months after the second dose of its vaccine.

Both vaccines are extremely effective in the real world, reducing infections by 90% in fully vaccinated people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in March.

Studies are now underway to measure immune responses beyond six months.

How will we know boosters are needed?

A rise in breakthrough COVID-19 infections — those happening in people who are vaccinated, but who still get infected when exposed to the virus — would be a warning sign, Kuritzkes said.

People in vaccine trials are being monitored long-term by the CDC and other groups. Currently, a tiny minority of them still gets infected, 4-5%, but if that number grows, that would be a reason to recommend booster immunizations for COVID-19, he noted.

What about COVID-19 variants?

It’s possible a separate new vaccine may be needed if a COVID-19 variant that’s resistant to the current shots emerges, both Offit and Kuritzkes said.

That hasn’t happened yet, but in a recent survey of 77 epidemiologists from 28 countries, two-thirds believed it would take year or less for the new coronavirus to mutate to the extent that most first-generation vaccines would become ineffective, requiring new or modified shots. The survey was conducted in February and March 2021 by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organizations and activists.

“We may have cycles where we have to keep boosting people — either boosting them with the original vaccine, which gives you enough antibodies to spill over to the variants, or develop a vaccine that’s specific for one or more of the variants,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said last month on MSNBC.

“The only trouble with the latter is that otherwise you may find yourself playing whack-a-mole with the variants because we have lot of different variants… what you really need to do is to get a vaccine that’s potent enough and broad enough that it will overlap all of the other variants.”

That’s what researchers are working towards to avoid repetitive vaccination, Fauci added.

Pfizer and BioNTech said trials suggest their vaccine is effective against a coronavirus variant that first emerged in South Africa.

In March, the National Institutes of Health said that “out of an abundance of caution” it began testing a new coronavirus vaccine from Moderna designed to protect against that variant “should there be a need for an updated vaccine,” Fauci explained.

“If it turns out that we have to do a better job of matching the vaccine to these emerging variants, then another round of vaccination might be needed with a vaccine that is a closer match,” Kuritzkes said.

“It would be a bit of a hybrid because it will boost antibody levels… and enhance the specificity of the immune response.”

Would new clinical trials be needed?

Not like before. In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said modified COVID-19 vaccines against variants may be authorized without the need for lengthy clinical trials.

The flu shot is needed every year — would it be the same for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Not likely since the new coronavirus doesn’t mutate as fast as the influenza virus does.

“Flu is in its own league,” Offit noted. “This virus is actually fairly slow in mutating.”

Still, lifetime protection from the COVID-19 vaccine won’t happen, he predicted.

Other coronaviruses cause common colds and it’s pretty clear having a cold doesn’t protect you from catching another one a couple years later. That’s the main reason to think a booster shot may indeed be necessary, Kuritzkes said. But at the present time, it’s unlikely that boosters will be needed in the next couple of years, he added.

How would a booster be rolled out?

Offit believed it would happen similar to the vaccine rollout, with the oldest and most vulnerable patients as well as health care workers given priority for the shot.

Kuritzkes said it would depend on vaccine supply.

“People will retain some level of immunity, so there won’t be the same urgency and mad dash to get everybody boosted within some very, very narrow window of time,” he noted. “But I think we would want to see everybody get re-immunized.”

How vaccine nationalism may delay global herd immunity

How vaccine nationalism may delay global herd immunity

  • April 9, 2021

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Experts warn that vaccine nationalism could delay the achievement of global herd immunity.
Photo editing by Stephen Kelly; Martin Barraud/Getty Images
  • Vaccine access and vaccination rates are high in high-to-upper-income countries but remain low to nonexistent among lower-income and lower-resource countries.
  • At current global vaccination rates, it will take 4.6 years to achieve worldwide herd immunity against COVID-19. This lengthy time gap will likely allow variants of the virus to develop and spread, potentially rendering current vaccines ineffective.
  • Treating vaccines as public goods rather than market commodities is the way to improve vaccine equity. This may involve scaling up existing vaccination distribution programs, developing new ones, and temporarily waiving vaccine patent protections.

At least 159 countries have begun their COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. Some, like the United Kingdom, are well on their way to vaccinating a majority of the at-risk population.

In the U.K., over 6 million people have received both doses of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine, and some estimates project that the country may achieve herd immunity on April 9, with an estimated 73.4% of the population having formed immunity.

However, vaccines remain scarce in many low-resource nations, and vaccination rates low to nonexistent.

And according to a new Perspective piece in the New England Journal of Medicine, global vaccine inequity will make it very difficult to end the current pandemic and prepare for the next one.

“The early competitive procurement of vaccines by the United States and purchases by other high-resource countries have fed a widespread assumption that each country will be solely responsible for its own population,” write the authors of the new Perspective piece.

“Such vaccine nationalism perpetuates the long history of powerful countries securing vaccines and therapeutics at the expense of less-wealthy countries; it is short-sighted, ineffective, and deadly,” they add.

Doctors from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health, the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, and Harvard Medical School, MA, authored the article.

The current pandemic is by no means the first time that vaccination and treatment efforts have been one-sided.

During the height of the HIV pandemic, low-resource countries struggled to access life-saving medications due to their high costs. Agencies, such as the United Nations, also decided it was more important to focus on prevention in these nations rather than treatment.

Priorities have shifted a bit this time around. For example, the United States and six other of the G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom) have committed to help vaccinate 20% of the population of involved low-to-middle income countries by the end of 2021 via the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program.

However, according to a December 2020 paper, high-income nations representing 14% of the world’s population now possess up to 53% of the global supply of promising vaccines. That equates to 100% of the Moderna vaccine supply and 96% of the doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

And many high-to-middle income countries have worked to secure a supply of vaccines large enough to vaccinate their entire population several times over.

Canada, for example, has bought enough to vaccinate its entire population five times.

The authors of the Perspective article write that global vaccine inequity is both a moral issue and a national security issue.

That is because inequity reinforces disparities between health and economic well-being. In a recent session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board, the director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “[t]he world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure, and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.”

And at the current global rate of 6.7 million vaccine doses per day, it will take roughly 4.6 years to gain worldwide herd immunity.

“Herd immunity” refers to a point when a disease-causing pathogen — in this case, a virus — can no longer spread easily in a population. This happens when enough people have received the vaccination or have recovered from an infection that gave them adequate natural immunity.

In the case of COVID-19, the writers indicate that herd immunity occurs when 70-85% of the population has had two doses of the vaccine.

Experts estimate that 80% of people in low-resource countries will not have received the vaccination by the end of 2021. By other estimates, at least 90% of the population in 67 low-income countries are unlikely to have had the vaccination by the end of the year.

The longer it takes to gain global herd immunity, the more time it gives the SARS-CoV-2 virus to mutate, potentially creating a new variant that could render current vaccines useless. As things stand, there are already five variants of concern circulating in the U.S.

And if available vaccines become ineffective, it would undo the hard work that many countries have already done to limit the pandemic and cripple future efforts to boost global vaccination rates.

The authors of this Perspective piece lay out a series of tools that could help lessen the vaccine equity gap.

For starters, it is essential to view vaccine procurement as a global affair, not an every-country-for-itself one. That means high- to upper-income countries will need to agree to limit fierce competition and the resulting high prices to gain vaccine doses.

It is also crucial to treat vaccines and other essential medical products or services as a public good rather than a commodity that denies people or countries that cannot pay.

There is also pressure on the World Trade Organization to consider enforcing a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver for Covid-19 vaccines to lower manufacturing costs and ease production.

This idea, proposed by South Africa and India and supported by an additional 90 plus countries, would temporarily prevent pharmaceutical companies from using patent protections on their vaccines.

Currently, most pharmaceutical companies use a system of voluntary licensing where they control who produces their vaccine.

The authors write that people who oppose TRIPS argue that patent protections on intellectual property, such as vaccines, may limit future discovery and innovation.

But while they agree that patents do provide essential incentives for vaccine development, they note that private pharmaceutical companies have already received $18 billion in public funding to develop COVID-19 vaccines.

They add that the current state of the pandemic should also warrant a reconsideration on how companies use and profit from vaccine patents.

Even if vaccines became cheaper and easier to manufacture, the authors claim that the world may not have sufficient manufacturing and distribution capacity and infrastructure to end vaccine inequity.

That is why they advise that global cooperation is needed to ensure the world can tackle the current pandemic and future ones equitably.

The authors also write that the U.S stands in a unique position to help drive programs to rebalance vaccine inequity and improve global diplomatic relationships along the way.

They claim to do so the U.S. government could commit to a so-called President’s Emergency Plan for Vaccine Access and Relief (PEPVAR). This program would help provide funding to improve global vaccine production, distribution, and healthcare infrastructure, and involve working with foreign governments and multinational organizations.

If approved, PEPFAR could build on the success of a program designed to help improve access to antiretroviral therapy in populations lacking it. The program, approved in 2003, is known as President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Improving vaccine equity will take a lot of complex, persistent work from every country in the world. But the authors conclude their Pespective piece by stating:

“Vaccinating the world is not only a moral obligation to protect our neighbors, it also serves our self-interest by protecting our security, health, and economy. These goals will not be accomplished by making the world wait for wealthy countries to be vaccinated first.

“By investing in multilateral partnerships with a sense of shared commitment and employing a global allocation strategy that increases supply and manufacturing, we can meet the urgent challenge of COVID-19 while creating sustainable infrastructures and health systems for the future. Getting the world vaccinated may well be the critical test of our time.”

For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.

Can You Drink Alcohol After Getting The COVID Vaccine?

Can You Drink Alcohol After Getting The COVID Vaccine?

  • April 9, 2021

Let’s say you’ve done everything that’s been asked of you. You paid attention to the information regarding availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, made your appointment, and got the shots. Can you celebrate with a beer, cocktail, or glass of wine?

Looking through the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, they’ve got recommendations for painkillers, in which they say you should avoid taking OTC pain meds, like ibuprofen and Tylenol if you’re hoping that they’ll somehow blunt the potential side-effects of the vaccine. The CDC does say that it’s perfectly fine to take those pain meds post-vaccination, though.

When it comes to beer, wine, and hard liquor, there’s not a lot to find at the CDC website about how it will affect the COVID-19 vaccine’s overall effectiveness. However, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) website says that your immune system can be negatively effected by excessive alcohol consumption, but the study was not done with the COVID-19 vaccine in mind. The NIH study points out that excessive consumption of alcohol can cause multiple problems like:

“acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS), sepsis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD), and certain cancers; a higher incidence of postoperative complications; and slower and less complete recovery from infection and physical trauma, including poor wound healing.”

Okay, excessive drinking isn’t good for you at all, we get it. But will having a drink or two after being vaccinated cause you big problems? It turns out the answer is actually no. Health.com says it’s not going to help you feel any better, either.

They put the alcohol-after-vaccination question to some infectious disease experts, and while the experts wouldn’t recommend having cocktail hour right after you get your final shot, it’s not something they’re particularly worried about. The biggest objections to you having that celebratory libation breaks down to how it will make you feel.

Health.com:

“Vaccine side effects include muscle aches and pains and feeling under the weather. Compounding that with the side effects of alcohol runs the risk of making you feel worse,” Tania Elliott, MD, clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health.

Another doctor speculated that someone could confuse a hangover with side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, potentially frightening off others who had planned on receiving the shots.

 

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

You Need This in Your Diet After COVID Vaccine, Doctor Warns

You Need This in Your Diet After COVID Vaccine, Doctor Warns

  • April 8, 2021

After months of anticipation, millions of Americans have been vaccinated for COVID-19, and millions more continue to schedule their appointments each day. If you are among the latter group, it is important to know that when the day comes for your own shot, you want to make sure it has the maximum effect on your immune system, but also keep some of those potential unpleasant side effects to a bare minimum. And one way you can do that, experts say, is monitor your daily diet and food intake. Read on to discover what you should be eating once you’ve been vaccinated, and for some things to avoid during that time, Don’t Do This for 2 Days After Your COVID Vaccine, Doctors Say.

Steak and eggs high-protein breakfast meal
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Experts say that incorporating a sufficient amount of protein in your post-vaccine diet can help strengthen your body’s immune response and put you on the road to a smooth recovery. Integrative physician Ronald Hoffman, MD, told HuffPost that “the development of immunity depends on the body ‘reading’ instructions from the vaccine and synthesizing antibodies and white blood cells, which requires adequate protein in the diet.”

In addition, preventative global health expert Sandra El Hajj, PhD, said eating protein after your vaccine can help you avoid feeling physically weak. “Your body will need to burn a lot of energy. If you do not offer enough proteins through your diet, your muscle mass will start decreasing. As a result, you will feel weaker,” she said.

Nutrition consultant Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, also noted that foods high in protein are also rich in amino acids that can help improve immune system function. And for the info you should remember to get before heading home from your appointment, check out The One Question You Should Ask Before You Leave Your Vaccine Center.

Mid adult woman making cold-pressed juice in the kitchen. Focus on cold-pressed juicer
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The days following your vaccination may seem like a good time to hit your system with some fruits and vegetables in the form of a juice cleanse or detox regimen, but experts say you should hold off on that for a while. “A juice cleanse is devoid of protein and fiber. These are two nutrients that can protect and strengthen the immune system,” Kimszal said. And for something that you should do after getting your COVID shot, check out The First Thing You Need to Do After You’re Fully Vaccinated, Experts Say.

Healthy vegetarian dinner. Woman in grey jeans and sweater eating fresh salad, avocado half, grains, beans, roasted vegetables from Buddha bowl
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There’s no big secret when it comes to your post-vaccine diet other than making sure it is healthy and well-balanced.

“Eat a normal healthy meal, mostly plant-based with whole foods and healthy oils,” suggested physician, scientist, and author William Li, MD. “Avoid ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners.” It also can’t hurt to throw in some foods that are known help strengthen the immune system. “Mushrooms, broccoli sprouts, and blueberries all have evidence for supporting immunity in human studies,” Li said. “These are delicious and have many health defense-boosting properties.” And for more information on the COVID vaccine delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Older man drinking water
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The food you’re consuming isn’t the only thing you need to be thoughtful about following your vaccine. Li also stressed the importance of staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol because it can depress the immune system.

Tania Elliott, MD, a clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, told Health that drinking alcohol after your vaccine could even make your side effects more severe. “Vaccine side effects include muscle aches and pains and feeling under the weather,” she said. “Compounding that with the side effects of alcohol runs the risk of making you feel worse.” And for the things that remain off limits even after being vaccinated, check out The CDC Says Don’t Do This Until 4 Weeks After Getting Vaccinated.

Army lab hopes its COVID vaccine will work as booster shot

Army lab hopes its COVID vaccine will work as booster shot

  • April 8, 2021

Army scientists are testing whether their new COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which entered human trials this week, can serve as a universal booster shot for all other available coronavirus vaccines.

Nearly 20% of Americans have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using one of three authorized vaccines.

But with public health experts and government officials anticipating the need for booster shots down the line, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are examining whether their vaccine candidate can “mix and match” with the others to enhance and prolong protection.

The Walter Reed vaccine — called SpFN — may boost the duration and breadth of immune responses in combination with other vaccines, which are made using different technologies, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of Walter Reed’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch, said in an interview with McClatchy on Thursday.

“This is something that we actually started planning before the whole field started looking at this, but the rest of the field of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development is now coming to look at these issues as well,” Modjarrad said, using the technical term for the novel coronavirus.

“We think this vaccine also has utility as a booster for another type of vaccine, in addition to its role as a stand-alone vaccine,” he said, referring to the Walter Reed vaccine candidate.

Mixing and matching different vaccines has been an area of “intense investigation” for vaccine researchers over many years, Modjarrad added. But it has never been implemented before.

Two COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use — produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — use messenger RNA technology, known as mRNA, which teaches human cells how to make proteins that trigger an immune response.

A third FDA-authorized vaccine for emergency use, produced by Johnson & Johnson, uses viral vector technology with which a harmless virus becomes a courier to provide cells with instructions to prepare an immune response. AstraZeneca, which also uses that technology, has submitted data on its vaccine to the FDA for review.

The Water Reed vaccine differs from those vaccines. It injects ready-made, multifaceted proteins into the body which may be able to prepare the immune system for different variants and strains of coronaviruses at once.

“When you look to other fields, like HIV or influenza, we’ve learned a lot from the research on those viruses,” Modjarrad said.

“And what we’ve seen is that when you start with a vaccine that is like a genetic vaccine — DNA, mRNA — or a virus vector, and then you come in and you boost with a protein, you get a stronger response, a longer response and a broader response, rather than coming in with the same platform,” he said.

After months of studying their vaccine candidate in different animals, Walter Reed scientists began their clinical trial in humans on Tuesday. Four volunteer participants were injected with the vaccine in the first two days. After initial observation of these individuals, the first phase of the trial will expand to 72 people, and initial results are expected mid-summer.

Modjarrad’s team designed SpFN to be a highly adaptable vaccine that can address multiple variants of the pandemic coronavirus in a single shot, and potentially provide protection against past and future coronaviruses.

The Army lab, at the same time, is researching whether its vaccine candidate can be used as a stand-alone vaccine and a booster, Modjarrad said.

“Speed is everything, so everything is being done in parallel,” he said. “We’re addressing the questions of this vaccine being used as a booster at the same time that we’re addressing the question of this vaccine being used on its own.”

Modjarrad has briefed Defense Department leadership and the federal COVID-19 response team on the vaccine’s profile for safety and effectiveness based on animal trials. They have expressed eagerness for the future findings from human trials, he said.

“I think this is a great week for us, but also for the U.S. military and global health, because this vaccine is not a repetition of other vaccines. We have always been positioning this vaccine to be a next-generation product that is thinking toward the future,” Modjarrad said. “This is what we’ve been working towards for the past year.”

Michael Wilner is a White House correspondent for McClatchy and leads coverage of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, Wilner served as Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post. He holds degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University and is a native of New York City.

Q&A: BioNTech vaccine is only ‘mRNA 1.0’. This is just the beginning, say co-founders | Horizon: the EU Research & Innovation magazine

Q&A: BioNTech vaccine is only ‘mRNA 1.0’. This is just the beginning, say co-founders | Horizon: the EU Research & Innovation magazine

  • April 8, 2021

The main question, they say, is which vaccine to prioritise first.

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was the first mRNA vaccine ever to be approved for the market. Has the past year fundamentally changed how vaccines will be developed in the future?

Uğur Şahin: The Covid-19 case really shows in different ways the advantages of mRNA vaccines. The first one is that it was the fastest (vaccine) development time ever in medical history. This is one of the key advantages of mRNA vaccines – that they can be manufactured in short production cycles and the time to clinical studies could be as low as a few weeks.

The second is that the data clearly shows that it’s not only the fastest approach, it is also a very effective approach in inducing not only immune responses – antibody and T cell responses – but also in preventing symptomatic disease. New (real world) data emerging also (shows that it is effective at) preventing infection, which is important for controlling the pandemic.

And the third is that we are just seeing that the technology, which was never supplied for global use before, has enabled the delivery of vaccines to many, many millions of people. By the end of this year, we plan to manufacture two billion doses.

And this is just the very beginning. This is mRNA 1.0. It’s the proof of concept for a very new pharmaceutical drug class.

Now that you’ve successfully developed one mRNA vaccine, is it just a case of plugging in other virus or pathogen RNA sequences and creating new vaccines? What other infectious diseases do you have in sight?

Özlem Türeci: That’s one of the important questions now, namely how to prioritise all the opportunities. Having gone all the way to conditional market authorisation for Covid-19 has allowed us to establish the technology for all the stages of clinical development and regulatory submission.

In principle, there are many other infectious diseases and pathogens where we would just need to cut out the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein sequence and insert the genetic information for an antigen from some other virus or pathogen into the same mRNA vector backbone and then basically repeat what we have done. And flu is the most imminent one because we are already working on that. But we have a couple of other infectious disease indications (such as tuberculosis) where we have already started preclinical work and are in the process of assembling the next shortlist.

You mentioned you had already begun working on a flu vaccine prior to last year. Why was the Covid-19 vaccine developed so fast in comparison?

OT: We started our cooperation with Pfizer for the influenza vaccine only in 2018, and we were at the stage of doing the foundational preclinical work (when the pandemic hit). So I would not say that influenza is so much slower.

The fact is, that with Covid-19, we were in a global pandemic, which meant the world’s attention and resources were going into it – all stakeholders, including regulatory authorities and clinical networks had a vested interest. Processes to initiate first-in-human studies or conducting large trials which normally take months due to long waiting periods have been accelerated.

When we now pick up again our flu work, we will be able to leverage all the advantages of mRNA in terms of short manufacturing cycles to adapting to seasonal variants and all the other aspects.

You originally started looking at mRNA vaccines as a way to treat cancer. Why?

OT: Uğur and I are both physicians and we have treated cancer patients. We are also immunologists and fascinated by the immune system. So then we asked the question: how can we serve the medical need as physicians, which the current standard of care cannot? We immediately thought about using immune therapies and activating the immune system.

US: We have been working on mRNA for more than 20 years. The reason why we started was our vision of individualised cancer therapy, based on the observation that the tumour antigens, the antigens on cancer cells, which are recognised by T cells (in the immune system), are unique in every cancer patient.

We understood that a future therapy could be (based on) analysing the patient tumour and finding out which antigens would be suitable and then producing a vaccine based on this information. And this idea requires the right technology – a technology which would allow (us) to induce an immune response against any type of tumour antigen in a potent way and which can be manufactured within a few weeks – because the cancer, of course, might be growing.

When we started, we evaluated DNA, vector-based vaccines, peptides, recombinant proteins – everything that has been tested before as a potential vaccine technology. But then we evaluated mRNA and we understood this could be really powerful. We could see that mRNA could be expressed in dendritic cells, which are the key cells for inducing an immune response. And that was one decisive factor and the ability to manufacture the vaccine fast was another. And that’s why we started to develop mRNA vaccines.

How big a leap was it to refocus this work on infectious diseases?

OT: When we started (our work) many years ago, it was very clear that we had to study the immune system in order to be able to redirect it against cancer.

The immune system has developed mechanisms to protect and defend against pathogens such as viruses. RNA viruses are the most ancient ones, which meant even though we worked on cancer (immunotherapy) for so many years, we had to thoroughly understand those (immune system) mechanisms which were originally against viruses, and also develop methods to mobilise different effectors of the immune system (cells that carry out immune responses) against an antigen. We had to profoundly improve the potency of mRNA vaccines because it is very difficult to mount strong immune responses against self-antigens on cancer cells.

And therefore, it was actually a small step from taking all this and using it (knowledge about the immune system) for what it originally by nature was meant for, namely virus protection.

US: The fundamental principle is the same – it is about engineering and delivering an antigen to dendritic cells to induce an immune response.

When you saw in the clinical trials that your vaccine was 95% effective against Covid-19, were you surprised?

OT: We did not know too much about the biology of the virus when we started (in January 2020). Our objective was to get an ideal immune response, and we knew how to tweak our vaccine to get this immune response. So when we got the data from our phase 1 trial, we clearly saw that we had achieved our objective.

However, what we did not know was how much can this immune response achieve in terms of efficacy. Traditional vaccine efficacies are in general, and typically for influenza vaccines, between 50% and 70%. The 95% was a very positive surprise.

‘We clearly see an era of mRNA vaccines.’

Dr Özlem Türeci, Co-Founder, BioNTech

As the vaccination rollouts accelerate and as we get more data in terms of the effectiveness, the effect on transmission, safety and so on, what in particular are you looking out for in that data?

OZ: Understanding efficacy in the broader population is very important. Data (from real world studies) seems to confirm a high efficacy across the broader population and population subsets.  

We have already shown in our clinical trial that (our vaccine works) irrespective of gender or age. But you cannot include all subpopulations – like immunocompromised patients, or patients with renal disease who get haemodialysis on a regular basis – in a clinical trial at sample sizes which allows you to draw conclusions. This will come with the data from the real world studies and will help us to understand (which) levels and subsets of the population the vaccine protects.

The goal is to achieve herd immunity.

US: At the moment, one of the challenges is people saying: ‘This is new and because this is new I am sceptical, I would like to get the traditional vaccine.’ But this will most likely change fast as we continue to share data. We will continue to explain how these mRNA vaccines work. For the Covid-19 vaccine we had eight publications in less than twelve months. And there’s more to come.

Do you think that one day all our vaccines will be mRNA vaccines?

OZ: I think we can say that we believe that mRNA will be transformational. We clearly see an era of mRNA vaccines. (However) there are borders where, due to the biology of the respective pathogen, mRNA is not the right format.

US: mRNA vaccines so far cannot supply bacterial carbohydrate antigens. So all the pneumococcal vaccines (that help protect against bacteria that cause pneumonitis or meningitis, for example) where you really need these carbohydrates cannot be synthesised by mRNA. Any type of antigen design which is not possible to be encoded by mRNA to be translated to protein by the human cell, can’t be addressed by an mRNA vaccine. So, we believe there will be room for other vaccines.

You received basic research funding from the EU early on in your work – how did that help?

US: The EU funding, and also the funding of the German government allowed us to generate deep scientific understanding of the immune recognition of cancer. The funding has also supported the early stages of our mRNA vaccine research. It helped us to improve our vaccines and generate preclinical and early clinical data for our individualised mRNA cancer vaccine approach. The results obtained from these projects helped us to identify investors who believed in our vision. Pharmaceutical development of new medicines is very costly and compared to the amount we raised, mostly as venture capital, the amount we got from the EU is negligible. However, it is important to understand that innovation development is an iterative process. The clinical findings that we have generated with these mRNA vaccines provoke novel questions and will open up new research areas.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

BioNTech received EU funding for the MERIT project and €100 million in financing from the European Investment Bank for its Covid-19 vaccine development. Uğur Şahin received funding from the EU’s European Research Council. If you liked this article, please consider sharing it on social media.

What To Eat Before And After Your COVID-19 Vaccine To Lessen Side Effects

What To Eat Before And After Your COVID-19 Vaccine To Lessen Side Effects

  • April 5, 2021

By May 1, all Americans will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Five states (Alaska, Arizona, Mississippi, Utah and West Virginia) have already opened vaccines to all adults over 16, with others planning to follow.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, side effects of the vaccines can include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, as well as possible fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, chills and muscle pain. These symptoms are actually a good sign that your body is building immunity, and they will usually pass in a few days (if they do not, call your doctor), the CDC advises.

But there are small steps you can take to lessen those side effects, and many of them have to do with your diet.

Helpful foods and beverages for dealing with vaccine side effects

Obviously, it’s not fun feeling under the weather for a few days, which is especially possible after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. “Budget for adequate rest and sleep when taking the vaccine, and maybe going easy on exercise,” advises Dr. Ronald Hoffman, a New York City integrative physician. Beyond that, he said, there are some simple do’s and don’ts in terms of food and drink.

Do: Try ginger tea for nausea

Ginger has a reputation as an excellent and safe traditional remedy for gastrointestinal complaints. Ginger tea is easy to make, and a simple recipe can be found here.

Don’t: Fast or do anything “drastic like juicing or detox”

“The development of immunity depends on the body ‘reading’ instructions from the vaccine and synthesizing antibodies and white blood cells, which requires adequate protein in the diet,” Hoffman said.

Do: Hydrate with healthy fluids

From water to tea to your favorite flavored sparkling water, drink up. The fever a vaccine may induce can lead to dehydration.

The Mediterranean diet places an emphasis on healthy fats, such as those found in salmon.

The Mediterranean diet places an emphasis on healthy fats, such as those found in salmon.

Do: Eat a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet

Try to start eating especially healthy a few weeks ahead of your appointment for a vaccine. A Mediterranean-style diet is known to have anti-inflammatory effects, but it’ll take a few weeks to kick in.

“Preconditioning your body for a few weeks beforehand makes more sense than just being abstemious in the immediate aftermath of the shot,” Hoffman said.

The diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy Omega-3 and monounsaturated fats (like those in olive oil), fish, poultry, beans and eggs. Dairy and red meat are limited. One study found that individuals over 65 years of age who ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day had a stronger immune response to a pneumococcal vaccine than peers who ate two servings or fewer.

Do: Consider eating a low glycemic index diet for at least a few days after the vaccine

A low glycemic index diet will keep your blood sugar steady. Research centered around diabetes has shown that lower glucose levels tend to be anti-inflammatory. In general, foods that keep blood sugar at healthy levels include green vegetables, most beans, whole grains and multigrain breads, fruits like berries and apples, and of course healthy lean proteins, eggs and nuts.

Do: Turn to that favorite remedy of all time, chicken soup

A nice healing broth with many well-cooked veggies is easy to digest and nourishing.

Do: Fine-tune your gut health to increase your immune response

Across the human population, immune response to vaccines varies. Some of this depends on age — as we get older, our immunity wanes. Some of it depends on individual variation. And some of it depends on the type of vaccine you receive.

An important aspect of vaccine response, and of immunity in general, is a healthy gut microbiome, said Dr. Todd Born, a naturopathic physician and certified nutrition specialist in Washington. Not only are vaccine responses variable, but Born said that a healthy gut microbiome has been shown in scientific studies to increase immune response to vaccines.

“A diverse and healthy microbial community in the gut will influence the immune system directly,” Born told HuffPost.

Born recommends a high-fiber diet and fermented foods, and to “start two weeks before the vaccine and continue for a minimum of two weeks after.”

“Fiber-rich diets encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that support the immune response,” he explained. And fermented foods ― from yogurt and kefir to kimchi and sauerkraut ― can help enhance the gut microbes that support immune response.

Studies have actually shown that some common probiotic organisms, such as lactobacillus rhamnosus, can improve the antibody response to vaccines. This and other healthy lactobacilli can be found in products in your supermarket ― these include kefir, yogurt, and some fermented beverages.

Born also likes a homemade “immune support” soup, which he often recommends to patients during cold and flu season. He recommended adding chopped onion and garlic, grated ginger, juice from half a lemon, fresh minced parsley and one grated carrot to a quart of miso, chicken or mushroom broth. Simmer for 15 minutes and add the parsley and lemon juice at the end.

While you sip that nourishing soup and let your immune system do its work, play some uplifting music and make a gratitude list. Thirty years of research has shown that stress, depression and loneliness can impair the immune system’s response to vaccines.

So, nourish your body with healthy food and drink, stay hydrated, rest well and be of good cheer. You’ll be giving your immune system the best chance to respond well to the vaccine and to recover quickly.

What COVID-19 vaccine side effects might I expect?

What COVID-19 vaccine side effects might I expect?

  • April 1, 2021

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

(THE CONVERSATION) Takeaways

You might experience redness and soreness in the arm where you got the shot, tiredness, muscle aches, chills and nausea, but these symptoms won’t last long.

You will be monitored for 15-30 minutes after you get your shot for more serious side effects, which are rare.

Side effects do not mean that you have contracted COVID-19. Vaccines work by training your immune system to recognize and remember a pathogen in a safe way.


Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter pain relievers in case you do experience flu-like symptoms after the shot, but do not take pain relievers before you get the shot.

If you have not received your COVID-19 vaccination yet, chances are that your number is coming up soon. What can you expect when you get your shot? It’s not a day at the park for many, but others feel nothing. It’s impossible for experts to predict who’s going to feel fine and who’s not. In the vast majority of cases, any side effect you feel will be over within a few days, and there is no reason for concern.

But it is important that the medical and scientific communities talk about the temporary side effects from these vaccines – and that the public know that there is a very small percentage of adverse reactions.

I am an immunologist who studies the fundamentals of immune responses to vaccination, so part of that responsibility falls on me.

Receiving these vaccines will likely make a lot of people feel crappy for a few days. That’s a far better prospect than long-term illness or death. In case you may wonder why it makes anyone feel bad at all, I’ll explain.

Immunology’s ‘dirty little secret’

In 1989, immunologist Charles Janewaypublished an article summarizing the state of the field of immunology. Until that point, immunologists had proposed that immune responses were initiated when the immune system encountered anything foreign – bacteria, viruses, and parasites – that it determined to be “non-self.”

Janeway suspected that there was more to the story and famously laid out what he referred to as “the immunologist’s dirty little secret”: Your immune system doesn’t respond just to all foreign things. It responds to foreign things that it perceives to be dangerous.

Now, 30 years later, immunologists know that your immune system uses a complex set of sensors to understand not only whether or not something is foreign, but also what kind of threat, if any, a microbe might pose. It can tell the difference between viruses – like SARS-CoV-2 – and parasites, like tapeworms, and activate specialized arms of your immune system to deal with those specific threats accordingly. It can even monitor the level of tissue damage caused by an invader and ramp up your immune response to match.

Sensing the type of threat posed by a microbe, and the level of intensity of that threat, allows your immune system to select the right set of responses, wield them precisely, and avoid the very real danger of immune overreaction.

Vaccine adjuvants bring the danger we need

Vaccines work by introducing a safe version of a pathogen to a patient’s immune system. Your immune system remembers its past encounters and responds more efficiently if it sees the same pathogen again. However, it generates memory only if the vaccine packs enough danger signals to kick off a solid immune response.

As a result, your immune system’s need to sense danger before responding is at once extremely important and highly problematic. The requirement for danger means that your immune system is programmed not to respond unless a clear threat is identified. It also means that if I’m developing a vaccine, I have to convince your immune system that the vaccine itself is a threat worth taking seriously.

Scientists can accomplish this in a number of ways. One is to inject a weakened – what immunologists call attenuated – or even killed version of a pathogen. This approach has the benefit of presenting a pathogen almost identical to the “real” pathogen, triggering many of the same danger signals and often resulting in strong long-term immunity, as is seen in polio vaccination. It can also be risky – if you haven’t weakened the pathogen enough and roll out the vaccine too fast, there is a possibility of unintentionally infecting a large number of vaccine recipients.

A safer approach is to use individual components of the pathogen, harmless by themselves but capable of training your immune system to recognize the real thing. However, these pieces of the pathogen don’t often contain the danger signals necessary to stimulate a strong memory response. As a result, they need to be supplemented with synthetic danger signals, which immunologists refer to as “adjuvants.”

Adjuvants are safe, but designed to inflame

To make vaccines more effective, entire labs have been dedicated to the testing and development of new adjuvants. All are designed with the same basic purpose – to kick the immune system into action in a way that maximizes the effectiveness and longevity of the response.

To do this, we take advantage of the same sensors that your immune system uses to sense damage in an active infection. That means that while they will stimulate an effective immune response, they will do so by producing temporary inflammatory effects.

At a cellular level, the vaccine triggers inflammation at the injection site. Blood vessels in the area become a little more “leaky” to help recruit immune cells into the muscle tissue, causing the area to become red and swell. All of this kicks off a full-blown immune response in a lymph node somewhere nearby that will play out over the course of weeks.

In terms of symptoms, this can result in redness and swelling at the injection site, stiffness and soreness in the muscle, tenderness and swelling of the local lymph nodes and, if the vaccine is potent enough, even fever (and that associated generally crappy feeling).

This is the balance of vaccine design – maximizing protection and benefits while minimizing the uncomfortable, but necessary, side effects. That’s not to say that serious side effects don’t occur – they do – but they are exceedingly rare. Two of the most discussed serious side effects, anaphalaxis (a severe allergic reaction) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (nerve damage due to inflammation), occur at a frequency of less than 1 in 500,000 doses.

Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2

Early data suggest that the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are highly effective – upwards of 90%. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also highly effective, although it was not developed using mRNA technology. All three are capable of stimulating robust immune responses, complete with sufficient danger signaling, to prevent severe COVID-19 in greater than 9 out of 10 patients. That’s a high number under any circumstances, and suggests that these vaccines are potent.

In an early release of the phase 3 trial data, more than 2% of the Moderna vaccine recipients experienced what they categorized as severe temporary side effects, such as fatigue and headache. However, more mild side effects are common – particularly after the second dose. These are signs that the vaccine is doing what it was designed to do – train your immune system to respond against something it might otherwise ignore so that you’ll be protected later. It does not mean that the vaccine gave you COVID-19.

[Research into coronavirus and other news from science Subscribe to The Conversation’s new science newsletter.]

It all comes down to this: By getting vaccinated, you protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from a highly transmissible and deadly disease. It may cost you a few days of feeling sick.

Editor’s Note: This article is updated from a previous version, which was published originally Dec. 3, 2020.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/what-covid-19-vaccine-side-effects-might-i-expect-158278.

corona-720

Dual dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine elicits strong antibody immune responses in older people

  • April 1, 2021


corona-720

A University of Birmingham-led study supported by the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium has found that 98% of people aged 80 or over who had two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine had a strong antibody immune response.

The research involved 100 people aged 80 to 96, who were living independently, and had received the Pfizer vaccine twice at three weeks apart. Immune measurements were taken two weeks after the second vaccination.

The largest and most complete independent study of older people’s immune response to Pfizer vaccination published to date, the study showed that, in 63% of participants, cellular T cell responses developed and correlated with antibody response.

The research also found that participants who had previously had natural COVID-19 infection had a peak antibody response after just one Pfizer vaccination. In these participants, their antibody response remained 28-fold higher even after the second vaccine dose.

Working with Public Health England at the Porton Down laboratory, the team showed live Wuhan virus was strongly neutralised in serum from blood samples taken from participants after they had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The levels of neutralisation reduced 14-fold when tested against the P.1 COVID-19 variant that was first discovered in Brazil. However, the team are still hopeful that the levels of neutralisation shown is still sufficient to provide broad protection against this viral variant of concern.

First Author Dr Helen Parry, a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Academic Clinical Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said: “With hopes pinned on COVID-19 vaccination playing a key role in bringing the current pandemic under control, it is essential that vaccine-induced immune responses are elicited effectively in people of older age, who we know are the most vulnerable group to COVID-19.

“However we also know that the quality of immune responses, including responses to vaccination, deteriorates with age.

“Although the Pfizer vaccine has shown good efficacy in those aged over 75, data on the immunological responses in those aged 80 years and over is lacking, including immune responses induced by the vaccine to the new COVID-19 variants of concern.

“Our research provides further evidence that the mRNA vaccine platform delivers a strong immune antibody response in people up to 96 years of age and retains broad efficacy against the P.1 variant, which is a variant of concern.”

UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium Lead and Corresponding Author Professor Paul Moss, of the University of Birmingham, adds: “Our data also shows that for older people who have already had a natural COVID-19 infection, a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine strongly boosts the immune response. Indeed, in these people the levels of antibody remain quite a lot higher even after two doses of vaccine.

“While we need further research to understand this finding better, it’s important that everyone still follows NHS guidelines to get two doses of the vaccine, even if a person thinks they may have previously had COVID-19.

“Meanwhile, we found cellular immune responses were less complete and were detectable only in 63% of participants. It is not yet entirely clear how important these cellular responses are for protection or for supporting antibody responses in the longer term. However, this profile must be monitored and we will continue to study this cohort.”

The research, carried out in collaboration with Public Health England and the UK Government’s Vaccine Taskforce, has been published today on The Lancet’s pre-print server therefore is yet to be peer reviewed.

The study was partially supported by the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium, which is funded by UK Research and Innovation and NIHR.

Professor Moss continued: “Taking a collaborative approach to research through the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium and National Core Studies has allowed us to drive forward our knowledge at an incredible pace and build our understanding of how different components of the immune system respond to COVID vaccines. This knowledge will allow us to optimise vaccination protocols and maximise protection against SARS-CoV-2 within our population.”

Dr Joanna Jenkinson, Head of Infections and Immunity at the Medical Research Council, part of UKRI, said: “As the UK continues its rollout of vaccines against Covid-19, it’s critical we study the real-world impact of these vaccines at pace, especially amongst the groups most affected by the virus. This study from a group of world-leading immunologists who have come together under the UKRI and NIHR-funded UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium, brings much welcome reassurance that the mRNA vaccine elicits a strong immune response in people over 80 years of age.”

The research specifically analysed the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 ‘spike protein’. For viruses like COVID-19 to survive, they have to get inside cells in order to replicate and build new virus particles and spread to other cells.

Coronaviruses are surrounded by a fatty membrane, and in order to gain entry to the inside of a cell they use something known as a ‘spike protein’ to fuse the membrane to a cell and take over the cell.

The spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 is stuck on a roughly spherical viral particle, projecting out into space, and ready to cling on to unsuspecting cells.

Given how crucial the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is, some COVID-19 vaccines – known as mRNA vaccines and includes the Pfizer vaccine – have been designed to give instructions to our immune system to make our own version of the spike protein. Production of the spike inside our cells then starts the process of protective antibody and T cell production.

Notes to Editors

  • To arrange interviews please contact Emma McKinney, Media Relations Manager, University of Birmingham, on +44 7815607157. Alternatively, contact the Press Office out of hours on +44 (0)7789 921165.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, and its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from nearly 150 countries.
  • Parry et al (April, 2021). ‘BNT162b2 vaccination in people over 80 years of age induces strong humoral immune responses with cross neutralisation of P.1 Brazilian variant.’ The Lancet.
  • The research team is grateful for support from patients and staff at Lordswood Medical Group and Ridgacre House Surgery.
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  1. Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  2. Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  3. Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  4. Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  5. Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy
  6. The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

  • The UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium brings together 20 UK immunology centres of excellence to research how the immune system interacts with SARS-CoV-2 to help us improve patient care and develop better diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against COVID-19. It is jointly funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and supported by the British Society for Immunology.

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